Airports have made some dramatic improvements in recent years with technologies like smart check-in desks and the arrival of a new generation of airline lounges with quality food and free Wi-Fi taking the spaces from transit necessities to places where people often don’t mind whittling away some time before their flight boards.
A new report from flight search website Skyscanner, based on the predictions of futurists, offers a glimpse of what the next generation of airports will look like.
The Future of Travel report, released today, predicts airports will be more uplifting spaces thanks to the introduction of new facilities like yoga classrooms and rooftop pools, as well as technologies like hologram staff.
Unfortunately it doesn’t address whether flight delays and the attendant overcrowding will be a thing of the past.
The future-gazing report was produced with The Future Laboratory and 56 trend experts and futurologists across the travel and tech industries.
Here are six highlights among the predictions.
1. Seamless departures
All the processes involved with checking in and flying away will be automated, Skyscanner predicts.
And while automated check-in kiosks are already deployed at most major airports, Skyscanner expects this concept to be taken one step further, predicting bag dropoffs will be available at retail and food outlets within the airport while you buy a coffee or browse for an outfit or a book.
It also predicts you will be able to use your smartphone to monitor queue times at security so you can decide when the best time to go to the gate will be.
2. No more lost bags
Fitting suitcases with digital luggage tags, pre-set with flight destination details will allow travellers to track baggage during their journey.
So you’ll know if your bag didn’t make the plane or if it has been diverted to some far-flung destination without you.
3. Holidays will begin in the departure lounge
Think yoga retreats, roof top pools, art galleries, cinemas and gardens – they’re just some of the things Skyscanner thinks will be included in airports of the future.
The company has called the new developments “Airside Aerovilles” and said airports of the future will be places “full of distractions”.
“Airports and flights will no longer be the price we pay to travel but instead will signify the start of our holidays where travellers can relax and create the perfect space to suit their needs whether they’re flying for business or leisure,” Skyscanner B2B head Filip Filipov said.
4. Airport staff will be holograms
Yes, you read that correctly. Skyscanner is expecting airport staff will be holograms, like the recent Michael Jackson concert where the singer was beamed onto stage in a surreal fashion.
“In five years’ time, there will be no need for a single human agent in the terminal,” Airbiz MD Greg Fordham said.
“An entirely automated airport journey will see the passenger take complete control, while an optimised team of multilingual and multi-skilled airport staff will concentrate on assisting those who need it.”
Passengers will also be able to use holographic “Skype-style” systems to call people on the ground while mid-air.
“Haptic gloves will allow them to shake hands on a business deal overseas, feeling the pressure of touch as it happens, but sonic disrupters embedded in their seats will prevent other travellers from overhearing their conversation,” it said.
5. No more bag X-rays
Lining up to laboriously empty the contents of your bag as you go through security check points will be done away will, Skyscanner said.
Instead it predicts new laser molecular scanners will be introduced to screen both passengers and their luggage as they pass through a designated zone, in most cases uninterrupted.
6. Planes will be re-zoned
Instead of zoning planes into first class, business and economy, Skyscanner thinks flights of the future will be divided into different areas based on activities.
Loosely this means there will be areas on a plane where you will be able sleep, eat, drink and mingle or work, the company said.
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