Posted: July 1, 2014

Skyscanner’s New Report Envisions Airports of the Future
If Skyscanner's report holds true, air travel will be revolutionized, both for business and leisure travelers.

As technology continues to mesmerize, airports are turning into a hub where travelers may be able to witness the best and brightest of trip-improving inventions. In 2024, holographic airport staff could guide you to your gate, customized seats on airplanes would provide individual climate control, and digital bag tags will circumvent losing luggage – at least that's what travel search site Skyscanner has projected in its new report.

In its second installment of a three-part report called "Future of Travel," Skyscanner seeks to shed light on what air travel will look like in the near future. The report, complied by a team of 56 experts and futurologists from travel and tech industries, predicts an easier, more relaxing experience at the airport.

'Individualized' is the Name of the Game

Airline seats might be designed for ultimate comfort, featuring memory foam style to fit one's body shape. They will also have an individual climate control function and a holographic communications hub that allows passengers to have 3-D conversations with family and friends before playing the films of their choice, according to Skyscanner.

The harbingers of much of this impressive technology are being tested today. British Airways and Microsoft are collaborating on personalized, smartphone-activated digital bag tags that will eliminate paper tags, boarding cards and tickets. The digital tag, pre-set with information about flight details and a traveler's destination, would communicate with wireless scanners that ship the bags automatically. As a result, you could see where your luggage is at all times and when it will be arriving.

All of this technology is part of what's being dubbed the "Internet of Things." Separate from the study, CISCO estimates there will be 50 billion devices worldwide connected to each other via the Internet, from clothes to refrigerators to suitcases. This means tagging systems will link your phone, hotel, home and luggage to the same device, facilitating smoother travel from starting point to your destination. 

"Airports and flights will no longer be the price we pay to travel but instead will signify the start of our holidays where travelers can relax and create the perfect space to suit their needs whether they're flying for business or leisure," Filip Filipov, Skyscanner's head of business to business, explained to CNN.

Laser Scanners, Hologram Meetings and Rooftop Pools

Presently, at Heathrow and Frankfurt airports, iQua, a Bluetooth-enabled product, has been installed to better understand passenger behavior and free up bottlenecks, according to Skyscanner. This might mean breezier trips for travelers staying at Heathrow Airport hotels and Frankfurt Airport hotels. 

"Developments like automated self-service technology, check-in with voice command, laser molecular scanners will characterize the automation of airport infrastructure by 2024, transforming both domestic and international travel," Kavitha Gnanamurthy senior marketing manager, Skyscanner India, told Daily Air & Analysis.

In fact, those laser molecular body scanners from Genia Photonics, now being introduced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are light-years faster than conventional scanners, as they are capable of screening passengers from a distance instead of the one-by-one process currently in place.

During layovers, leisure travelers could take a dip in rooftop pools. If they make their way to Singapore's Changi Airport, they can already do this. The southeast Asian airport already features a swimming pool butterfly roof and a five-story vertical garden.

Tailored seats equipped with Skype hologram systems make for a mix between a mobile living room and virtual office. Skyscanner has even discussed an electronic glove that business travelers would use not only to shake hands with their client, but to feel the sensation of the handshake.

Although Skyscanner's report is only projections at this point, travelers will soon enough find out which technology devices revolutionize everything from family vacation to business trips.

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