A portrait of air travel in 2024: report


  • TECH
  • Thursday, 03 Jul 2014

Holographic airport staff, zen airports with waterfalls, yoga classes and no more check-in desks are among some of the predictions made in a report that aims to paint a portrait of air travel in 2024. 

In its latest installment of The Future of Travel 2024, Skyscanner experts gazed into their crystal ball and looked at how technology will transform the flight experience in 10 years' time. 

For starters, according to the report flyers can look forward to the elimination of check-in desks and long lines, as smartphone-enabled, automated self-service technologies mean they’ll be able to check their baggage at any drop-off point, including Starbucks or McDonald’s. 

Technological advancements should also result in a reduction of lost luggage, as flyers will be able to track their suitcases via the internet and their smartphones with digital tags. 

Digital baggage tags have already entered the travel market with carriers like British Airways and Air France-KLM playing with different prototypes which interact with passengers’ smartphones. 

By 2024, however, the evolution of smart technology also means that devices will “speak to each other,” so that a suitcase may be able to let the hotel concierge know if a guest forgot to bring a toothbrush and may need a replacement. 

Biometric data cards that use facial recognition will also replace passports and expedite lines, allowing low-risk passengers to pass quickly through security, the report predicts, while customs and immigration officers will use facial recognition software that can be used to flag down potential troublemakers and assess people’s emotions. 

Airports will turn into Aerovilles 

The airports of the future will follow the lead of innovative, award-winning industry leaders such as Singapore’s Changi airport and aim to make air travel less stressful with the installation of art galleries, gardens, indoor parks, 3D cinemas and yoga retreats. 

This summer, the Helsinki Airport in Finland piloted a yoga and pilates program allowing travellers to find zen before boarding their flight. 

Airport shopping and dining will also enter the “phygital,” where travellers will move through an interactive environment, allowing them to order food off virtual restaurant menu walls by scanning QR codes on their smartphones and make instant purchases of duty-free perfumes, bags and wines which would then be delivered to them wherever they may be in the airport. 

These last predictions are based on experiments already being conducted by retailers like British supermarket chain Tesco, which tested a virtual grocery store wall in subway stations in South Korea, allowing busy commuters to grocery shop via QR codes while waiting for their train. 

Likewise, similar concepts are in place at India’s New Delhi airport where shoppers can buy luxury goods with the swipe of their phones. 

New haptic technology — tactile feedback technology that recreates the sense of touch with vibrations, force and motions — will also allow passengers to feel and smell the products before buying. 

And should a flyer be dawdling at the duty-free area, a holographic airport staff member will appear at their side to remind them that their flight is boarding. 

The next chapter in Skyscanner's future of travel report will look at destinations and hotels in 2024. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014  

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