Johnny Quach, former chief product officer at AirHelp, is an entrepreneur passionate about finding opportunity to create impact. Quach has built and launched three companies in his professional career, and after joining AirHelp in 2017, he doubled the size of the product team while spearheading the company’s AI development and integration, which operates with more than 96% accuracy.
Air travel technology is changing at a rapid pace, so what can we expect to see in the near future? Leading air passenger rights company, AirHelp, invites you for a sneak peek of seven new technologies that are going to rock the future of air travel.
Robotic airport assistants are becoming increasingly more commonplace — they help you navigate your way through a crowd, and at the same time, keep track of your flight information. According to a report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global demand and frequency of travel is expected to increase by 3.5% per year, and air travel is predicted to increase from 3.8 billion travelers in 2016 to well over 8.2 billion passengers by 2037.
In an effort to ease the overwhelming increase in airport traffic, many airports have now ‘hired’ robots who are ready to guide you to the check-in counter and provide you with all the necessary gate and flight information from the moment you first step into the airport. They streamline the check-in experience, eliminate long lines, and make airports more efficient. Dutch airline KLM’s ‘Care E’ robots take it even one step further. They will not only guide travelers through the airport but also carry their luggage.
Biometrics are on the way to fully replace the need for manual identity checks. We all know how endless lines at the check-in counter, border check, tax-free shops and boarding gate can kill your weekend holiday spirit. On top of that, flight delays and cancellations can further add to the confusion. If you are unlucky enough to travel on a Friday, you might have to endure the fact that every three in 10 flights are delayed at the airport, which makes Friday the worst day to travel of the week. In contrast to Fridays, Tuesdays are likely to give you a smoother check-in experience, because Tuesday is the best day to travel with flight departure and arrival with an on-time rate of 75%.
With the introduction of biometrics, long waits might become a thing of the past. There will come a time when we will no longer have to prove our identities. With advanced recognition technology, you can automatically pass all checks and be granted entry into an aircraft without ever having to show your passport and boarding pass. As long as you are on the passenger list and have no outbound restrictions, your unique biological traits, such as iris and fingerprint, will be sufficient in proving your identity to customs and airline staff.
Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are the two hottest topics in tech. What would happen if we apply them to air travel?
AR is a type of technology that displays virtual interfaces in the real world, often with the help of mobile or wearable devices. The implementation of AR in the air travel industry has a lot of potential; for example, travelers can navigate their way through the airport more efficiently by using an AR interface on their phone or through smart glasses. Airport staff can also use AR technology to easily verify a passenger’s identity and evaluate their baggage size and weight.
AR can also enhance the flying experience itself. With the use of AR, flight attendants can detect subtle changes in a passenger’s emotions without even having to exchange words, thus allowing them to adjust their services to better meet their passengers’ needs such as giving medical assistance to a passenger who can’t communicate.
On a similar note, VR can also improve the air travel experience. Using VR equipment, passengers can keep themselves entertained for hours in the virtual world, blocking out the dullness of the aircraft’s interiors. VR has the potential to totally change in-flight entertainment as we know it.
We may not be able to teleport as of yet, but accelerated air travel is already on its way to being the closest thing that we will have to instant travel. Just imagine being on the longest non-stop flight in the world — from Singapore to New York, which lasts 19 hours — and then be able to cut your travel time down to just nine hours. It will make a world of difference.
Long haul flights are exhausting, plus, they are prone to delay. According to AirHelp’s study, more than 50% of all long-haul flights are either delayed for at least 15 minutes or canceled. With the introduction of accelerated air travel, lengthy delays will no longer be a problem — planes will be traveling so fast that most delays will be negligible.
Though supersonic airplanes already exist, they are not available commercially due to the sky-ripping noise they create when traveling faster than sound. In the near future, more mature technology might solve the sound problem and finally bring these high-speed aircraft to commercial aviation.
Our current aviation industry has already implemented a partial automatic pilot system, and it is only a matter of time before we switch over to complete cockpit automation. So what does it mean for future air travelers? The answer is clear: lower organizational costs, more precise ETAs, safer route planning and air traffic management, and a cheaper flight ticket.
Internet of Things (IoT) makes devices around us smarter and allows us to interact with them even from a distance. When you are high up in the air, you can enjoy the convenience of adjusting your lighting, seat inclination and many other creative features — controlled entirely from your phone. Once landed, IoT technology will also allow you to track down your luggage using your phone, order it to roll over to you and follow you as you walk through the airport.
Many companies now use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve and customize your online booking experience. From the flight to hotel booking, AI streamlines the process and minimizes human error — no more lost luggage or booking mistakes with the hotel. Moreover, AI can optimize your search result by scouring every corner on the internet and providing holiday suggestions tailored to your preferences.
The use of an AI-powered chatbox can also take care of any immediate questions that came to mind and are much faster in responding than human customer service. AirHelp is already implementing AI technology to improve air travel — AirHelp’s AI bots can instantly and accurately evaluate cases of flight disruptions. This smart service can determine if passengers are entitled to compensation for their delayed or canceled flights or in instances of denied boarding. Some passengers may be entitled to compensation up to $700 per person if their departure airport is in the EU, or if their airline carrier is based in the EU and landing in the EU.
Jakub Dziwisz, CTO at AirHelp, shares his vision of the future: “We expect our use of AI to grow so far that we can bring to life a real AI travel assistant that can learn travelers’ preferences to the level of a human personal assistant.”
Sooner or later, AI will not only take your worry of travel disruptions off your shoulders, but they will also assure the whole travel experience is more closely tailored to your needs and wishes. C&IT