Airports are getting busier as travel demand climbs, but new reports suggest they are also getting more streamlined and efficient.
- Frustrated travelers feel the extent of airport inefficiencies with flight delays, cancellations, long security lines, and poor customer service.
- In response, some airports are taking a new approach to travel and making these traveling centers a pleasant place to spend waiting for a flight.
- A report from consulting company Oliver Wyman Forum found that a traveler experience “revolution” is in the works, Axios reports.
- “Our travel experience is about to get seamless, contactless, pleasant, fast, and personalized,” the study’s lead author Rana Nawas says. “And we’re on our way to making it less polluting.”
Why it’s news
One of the most frustrating parts of travel can be the means of getting to the destination. Complications and delays caused by an influx of travelers last year led to some of the biggest traveling debacles in recent history. Even with these inconveniences, travelers are still eager to hop on a flight and get away. Airports are responding by finding ways to make the entire experience more enjoyable.
By the end of the decade, passengers can expect more personalized experiences and services, such as virtual lines for food that will be delivered to the customer at the gate.
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport are early examples of the predicted changes. Both airports now feature virtual security-check queues. Rather than waiting in line, travelers now sign up for scheduled TSA screenings, preventing bottlenecks and long lines.
Detroit Metropolitan Airport now features a departure board with facial-recognition technology that can provide travelers with personalized information about their upcoming flights, Axios reports. The Carrasco International Airport in Uruguay has taken this technology further and is Latin America’s first fully digital airport. From the moment passengers step into the airport until they depart, they are met with biometric technology to make the process navigable.
Touchless technology is becoming increasingly common in major airports, a feature accelerated by COVID. Facial recognition, biometric scanners, and other automation are becoming standard.
Oliver Wyman predicts that touchless digital ID cards will replace passports by 2040. With new biometric technology, the TSA line may become obsolete, and passengers will merely walk through security “tunnels” that perform the proper security checks.
The possibility of integrating air taxis and special trains into the process could mean that security checks and clearance could be completed on the way to the airport, making the process even smoother. Personalized luggage with special tracking could prevent customers from losing luggage in the process, too.
What’s not being said
As futuristic and exciting as the potential tech advancements sound, these advancements would require significant global data-sharing. Something many governments and residents may be hesitant to embrace.
“If my digital identity is shared, I need to know it is safe,” Nawas says. “Governments across the world need to accept each others’ security clearances. Not everybody will want this seamless, contactless experience if it means sharing their digital identity.”
These services would likely be something passengers would have to opt into rather than being automatic. Some travelers would likely balk at the prospect of sharing their data with so many groups.