From an international point of view – airports are incrementally rethinking the user experience. They were once transport terminals, they are now evolving into attractions themselves.
There was a time not so long ago when air travel was a glamourous affair. Families would get dressed up, wearing their Sunday best to do a pick up or drop off. But now – its mass transit. It’s as common as catching a local bus.
But in 25 years or so, many of us will be driven to the terminal by autonomous cars. Our eyes, faces, and fingers will be scanned; and our bags will have a permanent ID that allows them to be whisked from our homes before we even set out. Some of these airports will no longer be cast to the outskirts of town—they will merge with city centers, becoming new destination “cities” for people without travel plans. Shall we get dinner, watch a movie, see a concert, shop? People will choose to go to the airport. Your boss may even relocate there.
One reason airports tend to look and function alike is that they’re designed to accommodate air travel infrastructure—security, passenger ticketing, baggage, ground transport—with the primary concerns being safety and minimal overhead for their tenant airlines.
What It Looks Like Internationally
Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 uses technology to speed people-processing without the need for human supervision, from face-recognition software to automated bag-tagging and checking.
Two American carriers, Delta and JetBlue, offer biometrics data as a way to speed your way. JetBlue uses facial recognition equipment to match travellers with their passports and visa photos. Delta offers fingerprints as a replacement for boarding passes and ID and, via its mobile app, offers customers real-time maps showing their checked bags’ location.
The overall goal is to boost customer experience by providing a modern terminal with additional gates for both domestic and international travel. At the 2019 World Travel Awards hosted in Mauritius, Cape Town International Airport won the leading aiport in Africa award. It would be interesting to see what other airports look to achieve in the short and long term. Can CTIA hold its position next year as airports begin to transform into destinations?