Aviation has always been one of the world’s most beloved industries. This is the industry that is practically single-handedly responsible for international flight at its most convenient, time-effective, and reliable. And the portals to getting individuals on planes and into the air (i.e. airports) are on their way to becoming more convenient, efficient, and reliable themselves. Around the world, airports are generally not renowned for being especially awe-inspiring and easy places to navigate, to stay comfortable in if a flight is delayed. But now, as technological advancement wheels in the next evolution in airport convenience and efficiency, the plot begins to thicken in all the best ways. Up until this point, travellers often had so many questions leading up to the moment they step onto their flight (and even in the moments before take-off, too, in some cases). Questions like, “where is the closest airport parking near me?” and “are there international charging stations at the airport?”. Now, those questions are soon to be all but forgotten, as airport technology ramps it up to a new level.
It all starts with the seemingly simple (but arguably most effective) technological advancements. Airports tend to be quite large by nature (especially the world’s major airports, like Hong Kong and Singapore, to name a few), and finding one’s way to the nearest bathroom, food court, information desk, or even their gate, can be a nightmare. This is especially true if one only has a short layover and must practically run from one flight onto the next. So, with the introduction of apps or interactive maps on airport websites, finding one’s way around to the nearest currency exchange desk or bathroom can be made much easier. Additionally, there is something exciting about these specific applications because not only are they poised to change the way travellers navigate airports, but how airports figure out how they can make travel easier for all those who make their way through their doors.
And it does not stop with apps and interactive website maps. In fact, technological advancement has signalled the beginning of an evolution that ultimately introduces what many are calling the “airport of the future”. There are new and approaching technologies that are designed specifically to make the airport experience smarter and more efficient. The innovations include (but are not limited to) biometric-based self-service bag drop stations, real-time bag-tracking technologies, biometric scanning at security lines, and even full Wifi in the air. In the case of the biometric-based self-service bag check in, this is an innovation that is expected to process twice as many customers per hour, making for one less line to worry about. And then there is the introduction of available Wifi in the air. This is, at the current moment, a novel luxury, but it is set to become the norm over the coming years. Travellers will be able to work, organise emails, watch YouTube, or play online games.
Advancing airport technologies are not just about enhancing the experience in the airport and on flights, either – they are also all about creating a fuller experience for travellers by helping to make the general vicinity of the airports – both in the air and on the ground – safer and more secure. Another technological innovation changing the way airports function and thrive is the introduction of anti-drone technology. Following incidents at Heathrow airport where seemingly random drones flying through airport property and airways kept planes on the ground for hours at a time, delaying all flights out of the area, the city is one of two airports that is investing millions into technology to prevent further flight disruptions (the other airport being Gatwick). While currently this is a technology that has only been sounded off for confirmation in these two airports, it is thought that, if proven successful and valuable, it is a branch of technology that is likely to be implemented into many (if not all) airports soon.
Airports are literally the gateway to soaring overseas in the most time-effective and overall convenient and efficient way possible. But it is also at airports that flyers must wait in long check-in lines, try to navigate around an impossibly massive area (sometimes in a short amount of time), and make sure that if there are any last-minute changes to their flight details, that they are ready and able to make it to the new gate, or whatever else, on time before their flight leaves the ground. Now, as airport technologies gear up to take airports around the world to the next level, all this organised chaos is bound to get a little easier to deal with. While the public have only seen a few of said technologies whir into action thus far, the next few years are set to see an incredible change in airport technologies, and all those changes are geared specifically towards making travelling – and the process to and from travelling – a more harmonious experience for all.