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10 Concepts That Will Change the Future of Travel

11 June, 2021

Travel has evolved significantly from the days of Silk Road caravans, challenging sea voyages, and steam locomotives – and it will continue to transform in the future.

Ideas that once seemed to belong in science fiction are rapidly becoming part of mainstream travel, influencing every aspect of the journey.

In the near future, we might find ourselves piloting passenger drones around Singapore or rocketing into Earth’s orbit to view the world from space.

From autonomous taxis and passenger drones to biometric immigration tunnels, instant translation services, and futuristic hotels, here’s a glimpse of what’s coming next in the world of travel.

The end of waiting in airport lines

Although controversial, biometric identification—using fingerprints, facial recognition, or iris scans to verify identity—is rapidly becoming the preferred technology at airports worldwide.

Biometrics are considered a faster and more accurate way to screen passengers, potentially reducing the time required for typical airport procedures such as baggage check-in, lounge access, boarding, and immigration control by half.

For instance, in 2018, Dubai International Airport introduced biometric “Smart Gates” tunnels that use facial recognition to verify travelers’ identities in as little as five seconds. The process is straightforward: after deplaning, travelers walk into a tunnel, look at a green light, and proceed to baggage claim without waiting in line or interacting with an immigration officer.

Around the world, facial recognition technology is already in use at several airports, including Hong Kong International Airport, Tokyo Narita, Tokyo Haneda, Indira Gandhi International in Delhi, London Heathrow, and Paris Charles de Gaulle, among others.

Additionally, the European Union plans to implement an automated entry-exit system in 2024, utilizing fingerprints and facial images to identify foreign travelers and streamline border control checks.

Airlines are also adopting biometric identification. Emirates has created a “biometric pathway” at Dubai International Airport, allowing passengers to pass through immigration and boarding without presenting their documents. In the US, major airlines like American Airlines, United, and Delta have been experimenting with biometric check-in, bag drops, and boarding gates at select airports for the past few years.

Reduced instances of lost luggage

Have you ever arrived in a foreign country only to spend your first day of vacation shopping for underwear, toiletries, and essential clothing because your luggage took an unexpected detour?

With millions of mishandled checked bags every year, it’s no surprise that travelers are eager for tech-savvy solutions to this common problem.

Many are turning to devices like SmartTags, Tile Pros, and AirTags to keep track of their belongings. Others are opting for advanced suitcases like the Samsara’s Tag Smart, which includes an integrated AirTag that syncs with Apple’s Find My app and uses Bluetooth to track the bag’s location.

Looking ahead, we can expect digital bag tags with RFID transmitters to replace conventional paper tags. This evolution would save time at check-in while making luggage tracking and identification easier for airlines.

Alaska Airlines, Lufthansa, and Qatar Airways, among others, are leading the way by partnering with Dutch digital bag tag pioneer BAGTAG. These products allow travelers to register and activate their luggage tags at home, drop their luggage at a self-service kiosk, and track it via an app.

Since tagging errors are just one cause of delayed or lost luggage, airlines and airports are also addressing common issues such as transfer mishandling, failure to load, ticketing errors, and weather delays.

In the future, we might see automated baggage handling, AI-powered bag recognition programs, AI security scanning, and even an AI global database linking travelers with their bags – all solutions that could lead to fewer lost bags in the long run.

Advanced Augmented Reality

On a future trip to Europe, imagine being guided through the Accademia Gallery in Florence by a talking “David” sculpture or embarking on a digital treasure hunt through the streets of Paris.

With just a phone and an internet connection, augmented reality (AR) can add an extra layer of intrigue to our travel experiences.

Specterras Productions aims to make the world’s natural and cultural wonders more accessible through technology and is already bringing such experiences to life.

AR and virtual reality (VR) became more mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic when museums and destinations introduced interactive virtual experiences for potential travelers.

Moreover, experimental artists like KAWS – known for his toy-like sculptures and collectibles – embraced the technology in his “Expanded Holiday” project, which featured giant AR sculptures levitating in 12 cities around the world in 2020.

Breer explains that these technologies also enable people to explore parts of the world they might not be able to visit in person.

“Economically, visiting places like Pompeii, Palmyra, Machu Picchu, or the Great Barrier Reef is very difficult. So, for many people, VR and AR will provide a good substitute for these experiences,” Breer adds.

In terms of planning, VR may also play a more vital role in decision-making in the future.

If travelers can explore a destination, hotel, restaurant, or excursion via VR first, they will likely have more confidence when making reservations.


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