According to a recent report from SITA (Societe Internationale de Telecommunications Aeronautiques), online plane ticket sales will make up 28% of all airline ticket sales in 2006, up from 20% in 2005. This means that of the 2 billion airline passengers worldwide, approximately 560 million use the Internet to make their bookings.

eMarketer estimates that total US online travel sales will grow to $122.4 billion in 2009, up from $77.7 billion in 2006.

While there is no doubt that the Internet has revolutionized travel planning for the consumer, the bottleneck of inefficiency now seems to reside at the airports, where passengers inevitably encounter long lines to check–in. That may be changing, according to recent data from SITA, which forecasts that in 2007, 72% of airlines worldwide will offer Web check-in services, up from 42% in 2006.

Self-service kiosks are also making airline travel more tolerable, with nearly 40% of North American airline travelers embracing the self-service concept, compared with 25% in the EU, 18% in Asia Pacific and only 7% in the Middle East and Africa.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the busiest airports in the world are at the forefront of making the travel experience more efficient, with 47% of Atlanta airport passengers reporting that they used a self-service kiosk to check-in in 2006, compared with 26% at Heathrow and 19% at Hong Kong airport.