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Exclusive: Is this how you will be flying in 2030?

In the year 2030, AI, automation and plenty of other technological innovations bring the travel experience to a whole new level. Buckle up: this is how you will fly in 2030.

AI makes booking a flight as easy as a conversation Automation and AI have mostly eliminated the invasion of personal space that comes with security checkpoints Smart airports mean you don't have to deal with a single human employee from the moment you arrive at the airport to the moment you board

The year is 2030. Everyone has got a voice assistant to get them through their day, and holographic projection phones are all the rage right now. 

Some things, however, like our desire to travel and explore the world, never change. 

Now that once-novel technologies like blockchain, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have become mainstays of modern society, expect them to permeate every aspect of our lives – that includes the aviation sector. 

So, if you were to book a flight in 2030, what would your trip be like, from the moment you make your booking to the moment you arrive at your destination for that much-needed beach time?

Alexa, book my flight

Many years ago, in 2017, US airlines United collaborated with Amazon. This collaboration allowed voice assistant Alexa to check users in and respond to a variety of questions about flights. At the time, Alexa wasn’t intelligent enough to book flights. 

Finnair, Finland’s largest airline at the time, was one of many other airlines to utilize an AI-powered Facebook chatbot. This bot, while lacking a voice capability, allowed user to book trips and find out information about their flights. 

Pretty basic, no? Airlines had to start somewhere, after all. 

Today, Alexa, Siri and a whole other slew of voice assistants can book your flight and arrange for the smallest of details, from your choice of seating class, to your preferred meal. 

Now, pack your bags and off to the airport! 

Robodriver, at your service

Can’t arrange for a friend to pick you up? 

Fret not! Uber has got you covered

To make sure you don’t miss your flight, make sure to arrange for a ride ahead of time. Opt for an automated Uber for the fastest, smoothest ride possible. The car’s onboard AI-capabilities allow it to communicate with other cars on the road through the connectivity of IoT. This means you are booking the safest, fastest ride to get you to the airport on time! 

This is the sight you’ll see below your house. Image: Uber, through Wired

Fear not the pat-down

Travellers today are lucky. In the past, travelers arriving at an airport have had to worry about their personal space being violated and their belongings inspected. 

As a traveler in 2030, you should consider yourself fortunate. Can you even imagine the endless queues that formed in the past as a result of human-managed airport security?  

You have the privilege of Automated Security Lanes (ASL), where you are responsible for getting yourself and your belongings through the scanners, where a non-judgmental machine will inspect your belongings with no personal bias or hidden racial prejudice. An AI-powered system maintains security through a network or cameras, sensors and other peripherals, making decisions on who requires further inspection and who can go ahead. 

The early beginnings of ASL. Image: TSA

Worried someone will nab your bag after it passes through the scanner? Airport cameras are able to associate bags with their owners based on who was filmed holding it the longest, indicating to the system when a bag swaps hands and sends warnings accordingly. 

There you go. Bags through the X-Ray scanner, yourself through the metal detector – you’re good to go. 

Swipe, pose, and you’re checked in

Sure, self-service check-in kiosks have been in service for many years now. This isn’t necessarily groundbreaking tech. 

Or is it, now? 

Today, in 2030, self-service kiosks have become so advanced, you’re very unlikely to see an employee at passport control. All you need is your passport and… well, your face. 

Instead of having a human employee cross reference your passport photo with your face, an automated system now handles this. No longer do you have airport employees squinting at your passport photo asking how you’ve lost so much weight, or why you have less hair! 

“Those of us that travel light will likely be able to go straight to security and to the gate in special, dedicated lanes – bypassing the melee of a busy terminal,” Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst chief analyst at Strategic Aero Research had predicted in 2019. Oh how right he was.

As for your bags, depositing them is fully automated too. With smart bags becoming the norm today, allowing for RFID tracking, you’ll never lose your luggage ever again. 

In the past, airlines weren’t too thrilled with smart luggage. These bags were powered by lithium-ion batteries, which are a fire hazard onboard planes. Lithium-ion batteries have been phased out from smart luggage over the years. 

Immersive shopping

Before you make it onto the plane, make sure to enjoy the state-of-the-art retail experience. From touch-screen displays that identify your gender and age and display appropriate ads, to VR-powered product sampling, retail has forever changed, and the experience is tailored specifically to you. 

Using biometrics, airlines like Etihad Airways allowed passengers to be instantly identified and offered them a personalised duty-free shopping experience through a voice interactive display. It catered to the individual’s interests and needs, while also utilising floor space efficiently.

Flying in style

You don’t need to be a high-roller flying on a private jet to feel like a VIP. 

The latest innovations in technology allow for unparalleled personalization. Back in 2019, Emirates wanted to be the Netflix of the skies, announcing a user-focused entertainment system that adapts to their likes and interests. If you watched a German film on your first trip with the airline and after creating an account on their system, suggestions on future flights would push German-language options to the top, for example.  

Unhappy with what the airline has to offer in terms of in-flight entertainment? Just opt for a Wi-Fi-fueled binge session while you wait to arrive at those sandy shores. In 2018, mobile satellite communications services company Inmarsat found that in-flight Wi-Fi was a key driver in forming customer loyalty and satisfaction among today’s airline passengers. In the following years, Wi-Fi became standardized as part of the airline experience. 

Saudia’s mind-blowing ad showed a glimpse of what the future would be like back in 2018

There at last…

After a seamless, worry-free trip, you’ve finally made it to your destination. 

Getting through passport control will be as easy as it was checking in back home. Automated systems will guide you in the language of your choice, as soon as you are identified by the airport system through your biometrics.  

Now that you’re passport has been authenticated and it has been noted that you have entered the country, it’s time pick up your bags. 

Since you were able to track your luggage throughout the journey, you know exactly where your bags are and how long it will take for them to be available for pickup. Maybe go grab a quick cup of coffee as you wait.

Don’t take too long of a break, though. AI will allow for efficient, smooth handling of baggage, cutting the queues and make it easier than ever to get your bags and be on your way.

Lo and behold, we were right. Your bags are waiting to be picked up. A quick face ID will identify you as the owner of the luggage, and you’re home free. 

Off to the rolling waves and sandy shores!