Travel may not be the first industry you think of as being technologically innovative. But there’s a lot of cool stuff coming down the pike in the months ahead. Here’s a few of our favorite travel trends in the new year.

The TSA will test self-service security screening

In January, the TSA will begin testing a much more self-service screening process with PreCheck passengers in Las Vegas at Harry Reid International Airport. The new prototype aims to reduce the number of pat-downs and bag searches.

More sustainable practices for airlines and airports

The aviation industry continues to make sustainability a central focus in the months and years ahead. Most airlines have made the leap and commitment to sustainable fuels and aircraft that use renewable energy. We’ll continue to see airlines roll out new sustainable aircraft.

Touchless payments will continue to gain traction

In 2023 we’ll see a push for the continued mainstreaming of payments via ApplePay and GooglePay in travel. Paying for train tickets, upgrading to business class, in-flight meals and late hotel checkouts will use more convenient and secure touchless payment solutions.

The Metaverse will revolutionize destination shopping

The metaverse will change destination shopping. It continues to make inroads with the nongamers among us. The technology offers potential for pre-trip assistance and the chance for consumers “try before you buy.” What might this look like? People who want to “see” what a particular destination looks like prior to purchasing airline tickets could utilize the metaverse. Airlines can also make this a part of the travel experience. Qatar Airways launched “Qverse,” a virtual experience that allows you to tour, navigate and check-in at Hamad International Airport. The experience even has a “MetaHuman” cabin crew to help you get your bearings.

Experiential Retail at the Airport

Most experts agree that traditional brick and mortar shops at the airport are on the way out. However, innovative retailers have been experimenting with more experiential retail experiences at airports for a while now. Last year, Chanel partnered with retailers at Heathrow to showcase a digital screen, allowing shoppers to virtually try on products and play games.

Biometrics makes inroads to wider adoption

Even though biometrics has been on the travel trends list for a few years, the pandemic accelerated its adoption and investment by the aviation business. The technology creates a more safe, seamless and contactless passenger experience.

Passengers have grown increasingly receptive to biometrics. IATA reported in its 2021 passenger survey that 73% of passengers are willing to share their biometric data to improve airport processes, compared to 46% in 2019.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and United Airlines trialed a low-touch, biometric airport experience from check-in to boarding for domestic travelers on select flights. The trial enabled passengers to link their driver’s license and flight details to their facial biometric at check-in.

Delta Air Lines is the first airline to build a dedicated bag drop space for TSA PreCheck customers traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Delta SkyMiles members who use the Fly Delta app and have a TSA PreCheck membership will be able to drop off their bags, pass through the security checkpoint, and board their plane at the gate using only their digital identity.

Adoption of virtual queueing

Virtual queueing is a trend that lets passengers book a slot to line up at airport touchpoints, instead of joining a physical line. The technology can help eliminate long lines, which improves social distancing and the customer experience. Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) became one of the first airports in the US to trial a virtual queuing system called SEA Spot saver, as a solution for crowded general screening lines.

The free digital reservation-based system aimed to reduce wait times and crowding to better maintain physical distancing. Following the trial, it was reported that the system dramatically exceeded expectations, with overall wait times reduced to 10 minutes.

Grab and Go from a Robot

Robots are becoming an increasingly common sight at airports. Cincinnati International Airport (CVG)  launched a fleet of fully autonomous delivery robots for food and retail. Ottobots enable passengers to order contactless delivery directly to their location in Concourse B of the airport, delivered by an autonomous robot. Customers can also select beverage and travel items on their mobile phones.

Travel trends continue to focus on technological advancement, making the customer experience better and more efficient in 2024.

3 Comments

  1. Biometrics are one of the least obvious technological issues; I think the best heuristic, when forming independent opinions, is would you be similarly intrusive when verifying the identity of an employee.

  2. What is your best deal going on a trip to Spain and Portugal together that is a guided tour in both countries hitting their most well-known cities?

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