Mobile users also trend toward “spontaneous travel” and “on-demand” situations, like booking a flight a few days out or reserving a hotel only after arriving at an airport.
The future of in-flight entertainment is in flux, and in the longer term we may see an end to on-board entertainment. These systems are expensive and heavy in an era when most passengers carry their own screens and entertainment with them. In the meantime, more flexible streaming services are being introduced on some flights. Last year, Netflix and Virgin America announced that the video-on-demand service would be available for free both on the airline’s on-board system and passengers’ own devices. Though it was originally free, passengers will pay for the service from March this year.
According to a patent filed by Airbus in the US, plans are afoot to introduce virtual reality helmets. The application suggests the helmets could offer “sound, vision or olfactory (related to smell) isolation” from the rest of the aircraft cabin.
We are already seeing this trend today with online check-in. But the self-service element of our flying experience is set to climb to new altitudes. London’s Heathrow Airport and Aeroports de Paris have this year installed do-it-yourself technology for dropping off luggage.
Other airports have or plan to follow suit. Some are even envisaging a future where the customer doesn’t interact with anyone until the flight attendant aboard the plane. We are perhaps seeing the first seeds of this at Aruba Airport, a Dutch Caribbean island off the Venezuelan coast. It is holding a two-year trial in which facial recognition technology is used to identify passengers between initial check-in and boarding the plane.
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