Different types of touchless airport technology are appearing in cities and countries around the world. Where can you find these technologies? And what new technologies will appear in the future?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, touchless airport technology has emerged in some of the largest passenger hubs in the world. These new technologies aren’t likely to go away when a vaccine becomes available and the coronavirus surge begins to dissipate. Rather, this is likely the start of an entirely new way to fly.
See below to learn more about the touchless airport technology already in place, as well as possible airport innovations for the future.
Different Types of Touchless Technology
Touchless airport technology falls into 3 general categories. First, there’s biometrics. Facial recognition technology is a great example of biometrics. It’s already in place at Dubai International Airport, and the introduction of biometrics has streamlined the customs process there — passengers pass through immigration in about 15 seconds.
Second, there are temperature checks. Obviously, high temperatures can indicate the presence of COVID-19 and other illnesses. At Avalon Airport in Australia, self-service kiosks are structured to monitor various vital signs, including a passenger’s heart rate and temperature.
Finally, there are digital services. Think about all of the services at airports and on airplanes that have traditionally required manual intervention — food service, for example. In the age of COVID-19, airports and airlines are finding ways to convert manual processes into digital services. At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a group of restaurants is using Grab, a platform that minimizes exposure to human servers and any germs they may be carrying.
Other airports and airlines that are creating (or already using) touchless technologies, including:
- Lufthansa and Swiss: On select flights through Munich and Frankfurt, these 2 airlines are using biometric technology that allows passengers to pass through both security and the boarding gate.
- Delta: At Detroit’s Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Delta is building a so-called “curb-to-gate” program that would allow domestic passengers to opt-in to a touchless system that uses facial recognition to check bags, pass through security and board planes.
- United: At London’s Heathrow Airport, United has created a system that allows passengers to use their mobile devices at self-service check-in kiosks. This prevents passengers from touching screens that others have already touched.
These touchless technologies are just the beginning. Expect a cascade of airports and airlines to launch similar technologies as they catch up to the realities of travel during a pandemic.
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The Future of Flying
Touchless technologies have arrived at some of the world’s most prominent airports, as noted above. Expect these touchless technologies to spread to smaller and regional airports in the coming months, adding to the general trend of innovation in the travel industry.
But what other technologies will the future of flying include? Here are 3 possibilities:
- Sanitizing robots: Cleaning workers have been on the frontlines during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the future, expect airports (and perhaps hotels, too) to use sanitizing robots that ensure spaces are safe for Travelers without putting workers at risk.
- Compliance enforcement: Technologies may be used in the near future to monitor crowds in airports and other travel-related spaces. These technologies will ensure that everyone is maintaining a safe social distance and that masks are being worn in areas where mandated.
- Smart bathrooms: Bathrooms are obviously a prime location for the transmission of germs. In the future, airport and airlines bathrooms will be smarter, operating with more motion-activated technologies and limiting the number of times an individual needs to touch a surface.
Even long after this pandemic is over, expect these touchless airport technology innovations to remain and to grow in number. Having gone through the pandemic experience once, airports and travel vendors will want to be prepared if and when the world deals with another outbreak.
Let JTB Help You Travel Smart
The future of travel remains unknown, even as the New Year begins. At JTB Business Travel, we stay on top of travel news, trends and developments so that we can best serve and meet the needs of our clients. As your travel management company, we use a common-sense approach in helping you minimize travel spend while taking care of traveling team members. Let us help you travel smart in 2021.
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