What if, in the future, airports were so automated that our first interaction could be with the cabin crew on the flight?
Modern technology is giving us more control over our journeys through the airport, with some airlines allowing us to check in with our smartphones, tag our checked bags, and even board flights without an airline agent by swiping our boarding pass at a kiosk reader.
Fast forward a few years and by 2015, self-service will have come of age, and travellers will be turning to their smartphones and social media to interact with airlines and airports in real-time. That’s according to a new report – Flying into the Future – by airline IT provider, SITA.
The report sheds light on four major IT trends that are expected to shape the way we travel in 2015, based on a recent survey of airlines, airports and passengers.
Here are some of the insights:
Booking holidays through your mobile
By 2015, airlines and airports expect the web and mobile phone to be the main ways that we buy travel services.
Smart phone apps and social media are creating opportunities for airlines and airports to offer personalised buying experiences, the report says.
Alaska Airlines is one of several airlines with a travel app that alerts flyers to airfare deals from their hometowns and to cities where their friends live.
Passengers will take more control
The report predicts that by 2015, close to 90% of airlines will offer mobile check-in, up from the 50% today.
Passengers will use 2D boarding passes or contactless technology such as Near Field Communications (NFC) on their phones at different stages of their journey, such as at boarding gates, fast-track security zones and to access premium passenger lounges.
Japan Airlines’ Touch & Go Android is one example of an app which will allow passengers to pass through boarding gates using their NFC-enabled phones. Frances Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is piloting a similar service.
More than half of airlines and airports also have plans to invest in automated boarding gates by 2015.
Abu Dhabi International Airport is piloting self-boarding gates in a bid to reduce long queues at the gate.
Lufthansa is one of the early adopters of self-boarding gates.
Customer service will become more mobile and social
By 2015, the report predicts that 9 out of 10 airlines and airports will provide flight updates using smartphone apps.
Edinburgh Airport is one of several airports with apps that help passengers plan their journeys to and from the airport, track their flights, access terminal maps and reserve parking spots before they arrive.
Airlines and airports will offer more personalised services
Airlines and airports will be more willing to share personal passenger data to help them tailor their services better to passengers, the report says.
By the end of 2015, SITA expects 80% of airports to be sharing passenger data with airlines. 53% of airlines – who are more protective of their data – will be sharing data with airports.
European airline, Vueling is trying to better understand its customers and improve interaction with them by tapping into information on social networks. It is also looking at ways to use this data in a way that encourages loyalty and by making personalised offers to customers.
Learn more about how technology is expected to change the way we travel – and the hurdles that need to be overcome – in the Future of Flying Report.
Maria is a travel writer based in London.Thanks to low-cost airlines, she enjoys escaping the capital for the weekend to discover secret European hotspots. She is currently learning Spanish and hopes to live in Barcelona one day.