The realm of travel has undergone a remarkable evolution from the days of Silk Road caravans, treacherous sea voyages, and steam locomotives, and it continues to transform as we move forward.
Innovative concepts straight out of science fiction are rapidly making their way into mainstream travel, revolutionizing every aspect of the journey. In the near future, we might find ourselves piloting passenger drones across Singapore or venturing into Earth’s orbit to witness the world from the edges of space.
From self-driving taxis to passenger drones, biometric immigration systems, real-time translation, and futuristic hotels, let’s take a glimpse into what lies ahead.
The end of waiting in airport lines
Biometric identification, which involves automatic verification of a person’s identity through fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris scans, is quickly becoming the preferred technology at airports worldwide, despite some controversy.
Considered a faster and more accurate method of screening passengers, biometrics have the potential to cut processing time for various airport procedures such as baggage check-in, lounge access, boarding, and immigration control by half.
For example, Dubai International Airport introduced biometric “Smart Gates” tunnels in 2018, which employ facial recognition to verify travelers’ identities in as little as five seconds. Passengers simply walk through the tunnel, look at a green light, and proceed to baggage claim without waiting in line or interacting with an immigration officer.
Facial recognition technology is already being utilized to some extent at airports like Hong Kong International, Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, Indira Gandhi International in Delhi, London Heathrow, and Paris Charles de Gaulle, among others.
Furthermore, the European Union plans to implement an automated entry-exit system in 2024 that uses fingerprints and facial images to identify foreign travelers and streamline border control checks.
Airlines are also embracing biometric identification. Emirates, for instance, has introduced a “biometric pathway” at Dubai International Airport, allowing passengers to pass through immigration and boarding without presenting physical documents.
In the United States, major airlines like American Airlines, United, and Delta have been experimenting with biometric check-in, bag drops, and boarding gates at select airports for the past few years.
Reducing lost luggage incidents
Have you ever found yourself in a foreign country without your luggage, spending precious vacation time shopping for essentials like underwear and toiletries while your bags take an unexpected detour?
Given the millions of mishandled checked bags each year, it’s no surprise that travelers are seeking tech-savvy solutions to this common travel woe.
Some are turning to devices like SmartTags, Tile Pros, and AirTags to keep track of their belongings. Others opt for advanced suitcases such as Samsara’s Tag Smart, which includes an integrated AirTag that syncs with Apple’s Find My app and uses Bluetooth to track the bag’s location.
Looking ahead, traditional paper bag tags may be replaced by digital bag tags equipped with RFID transmitters. This evolution would save time during check-in while simultaneously making luggage tracking and identification easier for airlines.
Leading the way are airlines like Alaska Airlines, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways, which have partnered with Dutch digital bag tag pioneer BAGTAG. These products allow travelers to register and activate their luggage tags at home, drop off their bags at a self-service kiosk, and track them via an app.
Since tagging errors are just one cause of delayed or lost luggage, airlines and airports are also exploring solutions for other common issues such as transfer mishandling, failure to load, ticketing errors, and weather delays.
In the future, we might witness automated baggage handling, AI-powered bag recognition programs, AI security scanning, and even an AI global database.
Next-Level Augmented Reality (AR)
- Augmented reality adds an extra layer of intrigue to travel experiences.
- AR allows visitors to interact with art, explore destinations virtually, and make more informed travel decisions.
The Rise of Flying Taxis
- Electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) and passenger drones are becoming more popular.
Companies like LIFT Aircraft and Volocopter are planning to offer commercial flights using
these futuristic aircraft.
Robotaxis Gain Momentum
- Autonomous robotaxis are being introduced in cities like Las Vegas and Phoenix.
- Companies like Motional, Waymo, and Baidu are making progress in developing fully autonomous ride-hailing services.
Net-Zero Flights on the Horizon
- The aviation industry is focused on achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- Emerging technologies like sustainable aviation fuel, hydrogen-powered engines, and all-electric planes are being explored.
Eco-Fabulous Hotel Stays
- Hotels are embracing sustainability with features like solar panels, energy-saving fixtures, and zero-waste policies.
- Examples include room2 Chiswick in London, Hotel Marcel New Haven in the US, and the upcoming Six Senses Svart and Sheybarah Resort.
Say Goodbye to Language Barriers
Language translation technology is advancing, reducing language barriers for travelers.
Instant translation devices and apps make it easier to communicate and understand in foreign countries.