Skip to main content

The evolution of passenger profiles and implications for future mobility

Traditionally, passengers were categorized according to their travel purpose which resulted in the two groups business and leisure travellers (Dresner, 2006). However, these traditional distinctions started to blur over the past years and will continue to do so in the future. This is driven by various developments such as newly emerging markets and cultural backgrounds, an ageing society, or an increasing digitalization within private and business life. Resulting passenger needs and expectations along their journey can thus differ to a great extent. This is reflected in their willingness to pay for extra services and time savings during their stay at the airport, for example. Therefore, the initial passenger group classification is not sufficient anymore to properly address and integrate passenger requirements across the different transport modes.

Different studies investigate passenger behaviour and preferences in order to define new passenger groups. A characterization by varying expectations along their journey instead of travel purpose leads to new passenger profiles like “urban hoppers”, “culture seekers” or “screenagers” (SITA, 2015; Initiative Airport Media, 2011). Relevant characteristics include, inter alia, the age of the traveller, the level of personal mobility, environmental awareness, the degree of required individualisation, technological affinity, or the expected exclusiveness of services. The “Future Traveller Tribes” study (Amadeus, 2015), for example, defines the “social capital seekers” that pursue personalisation according to their individual preferences and interests. These particular passengers are very keen on sharing their travel experience in different social networks in order to receive positive validation by other users. Ubiquitous connectivity is therefore an important requirement along the entire travel chain. Destinations are selected in order to achieve recognition by presenting a unique experience and potentially creating incentives for other travellers to visit these spots.

Each passenger group in the different studies is mainly described in a qualitative way and uses multiple attributes to classify a particular traveller type. Within DATASET2050, various studies have been gathered in order to obtain a more quantitative-based picture of associated travel behaviour. This data is applied to establish current and future demand profiles which are in turn used to assess future mobility needs and potential bottlenecks.

Figure 1: Passenger classification according to aspired travel experience and use of technology throughout the journey (Sources: own depiction based on SITA (2015); Skift (2015); OAG (2014); Amadeus (2015); Initiative Airport Media (2011))


Amadeus (2015), Future Traveller Tribes 2030 – Understanding Tomorrow’s Traveller,

Dresner, M. (2006), Leisure versus business passengers: Similarities, differences and implications, in: Journal of Air Transport Management, Vol. 12, Iss. 1, January 2006, pp. 28-32.

Initiative Airport Media (2011), Airport Private Traveller Study – Reiseverhalten, EInstellungen und Werte der Privatreisenden am Airport, GfK Mobilitätsmonitor – GfK Roper Consumer Styles,

OAG (2014), OAG Trends Report: What is shaping air travel in 2015?, OAG Aviation Worldwide Limited.

SITA (2015), Air Transport industry Insights: The Future is Personal, SITA – A 360 Degree Report.

Skift (2015), Megatrends defining travel in 2015, Yearbook / Issue: 01, Skift Travel IQ.