10 emerging technologies that are reshaping the flying experience for the airline industry.

‘’First Europe, and then the globe, will be linked by flight, and nations so knit together that they will grow to be next-door neighbors. What railways have done for nations, airways will do for the world.’’

— Claude Grahame-White, 1914 (Aviation pioneer)

Airline industry has not just revolutionised the way we travel but has shrunk the world into few hours. Today, the airline industry carries a huge number of 3.6 Billion passengers per year and accounts for delivering one-third of the world’s trade. The growing numbers of passengers and the technological innovations have changed the face of the airline industry for good.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 emerging technologies which are revolutionising the flying experiences and digitally transforming it to a tech-savvy and customer centric industry.

1. Blockchain Technology

Given the popularity gained by the blockchain technology in the financial sector it is seeing a wide range of applications in other industries as well. Airline industry has just started realising the potential of blockchain in various aspects. Recently, Air France talked about how they are looking at blockchain technology in improving business process and improving workflows.

Here is how airlines can use blockchain technology to improve operational efficiencies, security systems and even customer experiences

  • By implementing blockchain technology airlines can do away with the need to rely on physical ID proofs by saving passengers’ data maintained in a virtual de-centralised database, which can be accessed by relevant people.
  • It can help in turning flying miles into a more valuable asset which can be used to give added benefits to the customers, by tokenising these points and offering them a chance to accrue these points through a community of partners.
  • Blockchain can be extremely useful in building a robust security system for managing customer data.

2. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Industries like retail, healthcare etc. are seeing a lot of uses of the AR/VR revolution. Airlines industry is also following suit. Right now one of the most obvious applications of these technologies can be expected to be seen in the airport space where the airport experience can be enhanced with the help of AR/VR based apps. Foe e.g,

Gatwick airport install navigation beacons that can interface with smartphones for AR navigation.

3. Artificial Intelligence

With AI gaining traction industries are using it to upgrade customer experience at every touch point. From chat bots to voice-based AI tools there are umpteen use cases of AI being utilised.

The airline industry understands the power of AI in helping them stepping up their technology game. A lot of forward thinking airlines understand the impact AI can have in multiple areas of the industry and are already investing in the same.

E.g. UK-based EasyJet is using AI for predictive analysis. The airline is using a combination of these technologies to make sense of all the available data and use these insights to create offers and services personalised for individual travellers. The airline also has a recognition tool that reads passports and fills out all the information for flyers — easing out the data entry and data management tasks more manageable.

Easyjet, Korean Air is also exploring how voice-activated digital assistant can help in offering a seamless travel experience.

4. Beacons technology

Beacons technology has seen a lot of success when it comes to retail and there is a huge potential for the airline industry to use Beacons in making navigation easy for travellers between different terminals at the airport. Further, Beacons can help airports and vendors at the airport premises to know where passengers are and then send them personalised and relevant information accordingly. These updates can be about boarding gate number, baggage carousel, flight status or also about the shops and eateries around the customer.

MIAMI International airport is already leveraging Beacons in its premises to create a personalised experience for the travellers. The app provides information about the entire airport as travellers navigate through various places at the premises. Further, they are also updated with relevant information depending on their individual journey, e.g. gate numbers, flight updates, baggage collection details, etc.

5. Robotics

The airline industry is also using robotics in assisting with various tasks like customer management, baggage handling, car parking, etc.

The introduction of KLM’s socially-aware ‘Spencer Robot’ last year created a lot of buzz. This robot has been equipped with the capability to deal with social situations between people and can ‘see’ and analyse people nearby with his sensors. Spencer can also distinguish between individuals, families and larger groups, and also learns about and then complies with social rules, ultimately acting in a human-friendly way.

6. Biometrics

The airlines industry is consistently working towards making travel experience delightful and comfortable for their customers. Adopting the Biometrics Technology at airlines and airport touch points is one such attempt by the industry. Back in 2015, the biometrics trial was launched with the ‘Happy Flow’ project. Aptly named, this project aimed at creating a seamless and secure air travel process.

In just two years, today, a lot of biometric-enables single token platforms have been introduced, and airlines and airports are leveraging them to revolutionise passenger experiences. E.g.Air New Zealand has launched a biometric-enabled bag drop to speed-up the check-in process.

Recently Delta Airlines went a step ahead and launched the world’s first self-service biometric-enabled baggage drop to free up “free up more Delta people” to deal with customers.

7. Wearable technology

Airlines have started to use wearable technology is various ways to do more than improving customer experience on flights. Some of the examples of airlines using wearable technology are:

- Recently Japan Airlines used Microsoft’s HoloLens for training its new crew members and engineers. Using HoloLens, the mechanics can be trained about engine mechanics akin to the experience they will have working on an actual plane.

- EasyJet and British Airways are among the airlines that have created apps for the Apple Watch, enabling passengers to store boarding passes and receive real-time updates on their wrist.

8. Internet of Things

According to the FTE:

‘’Over the course of the next decade, it is likely that all “things” on board will be connected and the health of everything, from engine performance to the IFE system, will be monitored in real-time. Sensors will automatically detect and report faults to maintenance teams on the ground, removing the need for the crew to manually report faults. Moreover, the addition of sensors to aircraft seats will enable the crew to monitor individual passenger health and wellbeing, and to proactively respond to their needs.’’

Virgin Airlines have implemented IoT in its Boeing 787. Every single element on the plane is attached to a wireless aeroplane network, providing real-time IoT data on elements like performance, maintenance etc. The airline is using the deluge of data that it is collecting through these flights to improve the efficiency of the aircraft and also being pro-active.

9. Big Data and Analytics

Airlines can drive valuable insights by analysing the vast amount of data available to them to create delightful experiences for travellers, understand customer preferences in real-time based on data of their purchase history, travel itineraries etc. and provide them customised offers etc.

E.g. United Airlines uses a smart ‘’collect, detect, act’’ system to analyse around 150 variables in the customer profile including their previous purchases, preferences etc. and provide tailor-made offers to them. United Airlines has seen a YoY revenue increase of 15% after implementation of this system.

Further, this data can also help in increasing the operational efficiencies through predictive analytics.

Southwest Airlines has partnered with NASA to indicate potential safety issues. By using machine-learning algorithms, they have built an automated system capable of crunching vast data sets to warn about anomalies and to prevent potential accidents.

10. Mobile solutions

Today, smartphones have become an integral part of people’s life. Airlines have started venturing into the world of mobile solutions and are using this platform to connect with their customers throughout the passenger journey starting from booking of a flight till deplaning it.

E.g. Delta Airlines recently started providing their passengers’ virtual boarding passes 24 hours before their journey through their mobile app, easing out the check-in process for their passengers.

In our article, we take a detailed look at how Airlines are using the mobile platform to create delightful customer experiences.

Digital technologies are changing the landscape of every industry and the digital revolution in the airline industry has just begun. In times to come the airline travel experiences are set to become more personalised, valuable and technologically enhanced building memorable flying experiences for the customers.

Also read the detailed article on — Digital Transformation in Airline Industry- 10 emerging technologies reshaping the flying experience.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Robosoft Technologies

A full-service digital transformation company | Product advisory | Design strategy | UX/UI | Application Development & Maintenance | Emerging Technologies