[ What's Next? ] What Will Airports Be Like in the Future?

14 March 2018

In the future, you’ll want to visit the airport more often.

Imagine getting from your home to your plane to your hotel and back again without having to lug your luggage around, stand in lines, go through an annoying security process, and walk miles to your gate. Imagine not even having to carry a passport or boarding pass.

That’s the travel experience that airlines and airports want to offer passengers over the next few decades.

Speaking at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Passenger Summit in Barcelona, Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths shared a vision of the future of airport design. Based on transport pods to get you from your point of origin to your concourse, the concept would make reaching the gate less of a marathon.

Griffiths believes that if airports and airlines start thinking like technology companies instead of transportation infrastructure — challenging current transport and security processes and terminal design — that we can enjoy a much improved air travel experience.

“We need to take a leaf out of the books of Uber, Amazon, Facebook and eBay and all of those who have applied technology and process design to re-imagine their entire business around customer convenience,” he said. “This would trigger a dramatic redesign of airports.”

Biometric ID and Security

In the future, airlines and airports want to get rid of check-in desks and security lines. Instead, passengers may get their luggage picked up at home or at the hotel, and delivered again to their residence at the destination.

Passengers' identities could be confirmed using biometric screening without having to present security documents, and advanced screening technology would ensure passengers are safe without having to stop to scan bags, laptops and shampoo bottles, or remove shoes and belts.

“Imagine an airport with no check-in, no immigration, and discreet non-intrusive security all enabled by a single identity database securely held in the cloud and available to those who currently need physical evidence of our identity as we travel,” Griffiths said. “The possibility then re-emerges to reorder the entire travel process around the customer’s service, rather than around the convenience of everyone else.”

Sound unreal? Much of the technology needed to deliver this experience is already in place.

Biometric identity is gaining momentum in the aviation industry, with plans to go beyond today’s facial or fingerprint scanners, to having passengers simply walk by and be recognized with a combination of biometric “footprints.” It’s a concept right out of science-fiction films, but it could be deployed within the next five to 10 years.

“The question is can we get it over the line with the various governmental departments who hold the key to this,” Griffiths said.

Pods to Planes

With baggage taken care of and security lines eliminated, Griffiths says, airports can be designed based on smaller concourse nodes, where passengers can find their gates and lounges, perhaps some retail and dining.

They would be transported directly and quickly on pod-like public transport, which could be using a pod-concept, like Hyperloop, or something simpler, like “platooned” trains in which cars can split off to go to multiple destinations.

“Pods will be able to take customers from their chosen point of entry directly to their plane in a matter of a few minutes without leaving their seat,” Griffiths said.

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Credit: Traveland Leisure
Credit link: http://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/building-airport-of-the-future

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