What Will Air Travel Look Like in Five Years?

What is The Future of Air Travel?

Since 2001, the airline industry has changed dramatically. Welcome to the brave new world of ever-growing security lines, body scanners, more cancelled flights and fewer in-flight services.

No wonder passengers, who are finding fewer and fewer cheap flights, are crankier than ever.

Luckily, airlines are scrambling to improve the travel experience by taking advantage of mobile technology and re-imagining everything from seating to entertainment.

More than 73 percent of the world’s population uses a mobile device of some sort, according to iSuppli Corp, and many airlines are looking for ways to monetize this new technology and use it to improve the whole travel experience, said travel experts in a recent article on benzinga.com.

According to a study released by Amadeus, within the next five years, more airlines will offer the following services on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets:

  • Flight status and baggage updates
  • Alerts about flight cancellations and mobile access to electronic vouchers and re-booking notices
  • Ala Carte services that passengers can purchase, such as premium seating, access to lounges and bonus mileage
  • Integration with popular social-networking sites (One Latin American carrier is trying to work with Foursquare to enable people to check-in from airport shops.)
  • The ability to pre-purchase meals
  • Boarding alerts to passengers who are not in the gate area
  • E-coupons for shops or restaurants in the passenger’s immediate vicinity

Beyond expanded mobile services, there are a number of other ways air travel has changed.

For example, in light of checked-bag fees and restrictions on carry-on luggage, more people are using clear vacuum bags.

The TSA is continuing to install body scanners in airports across the country, which means in the coming years, more and more passengers will be faced with an invasive pat down or a revealing scan.

Airlines are also looking for more “intelligent aircraft seating” – seating that is lightweight and space efficient, according to an article on Gizmag.com. Designers have pitched everything from saddle seating that resembles an amusement park ride to seats that take advantage of vertical space in the cabin to provide passengers with more legroom.

Another new trend might be small aircrafts used as taxi services for regional travel. These microjets would be geared toward business travelers and would offer on-demand services for flights up to 1,300 miles, carry four to eight passengers at a time, and operate out of smaller regional airports to help passengers avoid parking fees and security lines.

Want to peek inside a crystal ball 50 or more years into the future?

Airbus Future of Aviation

Airbus offered attendees of the Le Bourget Paris Airshow a peek into their vision of the future of air travel. According to SmartPlanet.com, in 50 years, the airliner expects to re-engineer the whole flying experience. The design of the plane’s body will be lighter and stronger, and cabin classes with be replaced with personalized zones where passengers can access video conferencing or interactive video games. The aircraft of the future even offers seats where passengers can see the cities they’re flying over right under their feet.

Sounds cool, but for now, we will just settle on a little more leg room.

 

Southwest App photo courtesy of SouthwestAirlines.com.

 

 

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Published: July 5, 2011