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Future Airports: The Next Gen Travel Experience

In 2065, travelers will be greeted by virtual assistants, check into flights via biometric scanners and board pilotless planes. Permanent IDs on your bags will enable curbside pick-up from your home, parking garage or airport people mover.

Maybe.

While some of those examples may seem far-fetched, others are becoming a reality at select airports around the world.

Technology is helping make travel less stressful by changing how you check in, drop off your luggage, pass through security and spend your time waiting to board.

Today, a handful of American airports are testing a new boarding procedure – facial recognition technology instead of boarding passes. Pilot programs are up and running in LA (according to the LA Times) and Boston (according to NPR), with others quickly following suit. While programs are too new to report results, proponents claim the technology will enhance security measures and increase boarding times.

What do passengers think? According to the 2017 IATA Global Passenger Survey, 64% of those surveyed said biometric identifiers is their preferred travel token.

“Passengers want to use one single biometric identity token for all their travel transactions from booking flights to passing security and border control and picking up their bags,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security. “The technology exists. Its use in aviation needs to be accelerated,” he stated in an IATA press release.

Beyond U.S. borders, Singapore’s Changi Airport, the world’s sixth busiest airport for international traffic, according to a 2017 Changi Airport press release, announced a comprehensive partnership in early 2017 – the launch of a “living lab” for tech startups and innovative companies to design and test airport solutions in a real environment.

Key focuses will include exploring opportunities for automation and robotics, data analytics, the Internet of Things, non-intrusive security technologies and smart infrastructure management.

While innovation is underway at airports around the globe, there’s no telling exactly what the future travel experience will look like. However, by examining current technology trends, one could better understand the possibilities that lie ahead.

This content series explores what the future of travel could become with the help of investments made today.

Part 1: Emerging Technologies and the Connected Airport

The airports of the future will develop an entire IoT ecosystem – a mini connected city – that will use sensors and beacons to monitor everything from passenger flow and foot traffic to individual security risk.

Technologies will communicate with one another and provide non-invasive enhanced security measures while continuing to optimize airport operations and improve the passenger experience.

Learn more about the current technology trends and future predictions in our article Emerging Technologies and the Connected Airport.

Part 2: Passenger Experience: Seamless, Less Stressful and Satisfying

The end-to-end passenger experience will evolve from safely getting people from point A to point B to creating a journey that people will enjoy – even look forward to. In the future, passengers will arrive at airports that have undergone modernization efforts including new terminals with state-of-the-art technology and design that enhances passenger flow.

Learn more about the opportunities and challenges that remain to perfect the total travel experience in our article The Future Passenger Experience: Seamless, Less Stressful and Satisfying.

Part 3: Air Travel in the Future

Flying cars, city airbuses and personal unmanned air taxis used to be concepts so far into the future they only appeared in Hollywood films, TV shows and cartoons. For commercial travelers, such aircraft didn’t exist– until now. These innovations will pave the way for mass use for commercial aircraft at the well-known global airlines you use today.

Learn more about the predictions of such innovative aircraft in our article The Future of Air Travel.

While the next-gen travel experience is being designed, developed and tested on various levels, many airports and airlines continue to prioritize areas of improvement to achieve what the icons and pioneers in the travel industry already have – increased revenue, operational efficiencies and customer satisfaction.

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