The future of air travel is not yet certain, but there are many trends in the industry that will shape it. These include new technologies to improve hygiene, such as touchless lavatories and seats. Also, airports will implement more regimented boarding procedures that will eliminate the risk of people falling over in the aisles. Facial recognition technology will also be used to track travelers through customs and boarding.
In a survey of 5,500 airline passengers, McKinsey found that a growing number of consumers are concerned about aviation’s impact on the environment. While concern about climate change didn’t rise during the pandemic, more people are concerned about climate change. More than half of those surveyed said that air travel should become carbon-neutral.
In-flight entertainment options will be more varied than they are today, with bigger screens, gaming options, and the ability to take an e-course while traveling. Health care companies are also investing in new technologies for travelers, such as lighting that regulates circadian rhythms on long flights and noise dampening devices that help people sleep. Virtual reality and augmented reality companies are also eager to offer immersive experiences on flights. Some airlines, such as British Airways and Alaska Airlines, are trialing VR headsets for first-class passengers.
These companies also want to know what government officials think about the future of air travel. In addition, airlines need to know the attitudes of consumers in emerging markets. The industry should adopt core principles for facilitating travel for people with disabilities and the elderly. The active aging population is likely to require more assistance than ever before. Security measures should be improved to protect travelers, especially those with reduced mobility.
Airline designers are also seeking new ways to make passengers more comfortable. For example, they may offer standard seats and let passengers add upgrades when they choose. One innovative concept is the Chaise Lounge Airplane Seat, a proposal that is gaining popularity. This new seat type has a bunk-like configuration, but is yet to become a reality.
A number of solutions are currently being tested to reduce the harmful gas emissions that air travel produces. For instance, new propulsion technologies could reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and help to meet capacity requirements. Another new trend is the adoption of electric aircraft. These aircraft are capable of flying long distances without stopping, which will greatly cut the impact on the environment.
Supersonic aircraft are another exciting technology. Developed in the 1970s, supersonic planes can break the sound barrier and fly at speeds of Mach 1.8, or 1,381 miles per hour. If successful, supersonic flights could be a common mode of air travel in the future, as more airlines and aerospace firms collaborate to develop new technology.
While air travel is still a growing industry, it has a significant economic and social impact on the global community. In order to maintain these benefits, it must strike a balance between short-term pressures and long-term vision. This requires a system-wide transformation of the aviation network and the participation of stakeholders.