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No passports, more turbulence and standing cabins – 18 ways flying is going to change over the next 20 years.

 

 

 

 

 

Within five years...

1) The end of passports

Facial recognition technology is making great gains. A British company is planning on installing biometric tunnels at Dubai International Airport later this year, where people’s faces will be checked as they pass through against a digital passport photos.

2) In-flight gyms

Sitting in one place isn’t the healthiest way to spend a few hours. When Airbus’ creative heads recently imagined what the next few years might look like, they come up with a new modular style of plane called Transpose, where spaces that performed different functions could be swapped in or out, providing new revenue streams for airlines and more choice for customers.

One of the ways they thought that planes could be made more enjoyable was by including a gym filled with exercise bikes.

Plane Gym

3) Starbucks in the sky

Airbus also thought that major coffee chains might be interested in setting up shop on board, so that passengers could enjoy artisanal beverages and that the space could also be used collaboratively with other service providers.

4) Children’s play areas

Another interchangeable module, according to Airbus, could be a play area for younger passengers. Such an innovation would be a great way for them to burn off energy that might otherwise be channelled into kicking the seat in front of them. The Transpose designers envisaged a safe area lined with sound absorbing materials “where families can spend quality time together.”

future airbus play large

5) Airlines could pay you to fly with them

Airlines looking to the future hope they might soon be able to stop charging passengers and instead start paying them to come on board.

The idea was mooted by Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW and is based on the premise that airline revenue from additional services, like car hire and hotels, could eventually become more valuable than what an airline charges for seats. Passengers who are likely to share their experiences of an airline on social media could be the first to benefit.

WOW’s CEO announced that it was looking at rewarding customers who it has built up a "special relationship" with and who want to make the airline an "integral" part of their travel plans.

6) More low-cost long-haul flights

The low-cost long-haul revolution has taken place in recent years. Norwegian now flies to US cities including Oakland, Orlando, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles and New York.

WOW Air travels from Britain to Toronto, Montreal, Los Angeles and San Francisco, albeit via Reykjavik, and German innovator Eurowings has started using Cologne-Bonn airport as a hub for no-frills departures going both east (Bangkok, Phuket) and west (Cancun, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Varadero in Cuba).

Level, a new low-cost subsidiary of IAG, BA's parent company, has also launched. Buenos Aires is on its route map, along with Los Angeles, Oakland and Punta Cana.

This trend is certain to continue, with new low-cost routes to every corner of the planet on the cards.

7) Non-stop flights Down Under

Early next year, travellers from Europe will have their first direct link to Australia. Taking more than 17 hours, covering some 9,000 miles and crossing eight time zones, Qantas’ London to Perth service will be one of the world’s longest non-stop flights when it launches sometime in March on a new Boeing 787-9.

8) Tickets to space

The race to get paying travellers into space continues, with rival companies vying to get regular (albeit stinkingly rich) Joes into orbit. SpaceX has a journey around the moon pencilled in for 2018. To catch up on each company's progress - and to book your tickets - see their website www.spacex.com

Spacex travel large

9) The end of luggage worries

Soon, it could be unheard of to carry your own bags to the airport. A door-to-cabin luggage transport service, AirPortr (airportr.com), begins trading at Heathrow in October 2017 and promises to make life significantly easier for weary travellers in the capital.

It allows travellers to check in their luggage from any London address straight onto their flight, leaving them able to head straight through the airport, luggage free, until they collect their bags at their destination airport.

In the future, you will also never have to worry about a bag being lost. Once on the move, bags can be tracked by wireless devices such as the TUMI Global Locator (TUMI.com), the use of which may well become widespread. Users can also be notified if the bag is mysteriously on the move once again while it is supposed to be sitting in a hotel room.

10) Bigger plane windows (and views)

2018 is also when those flying for business will get to experience the largest window on any passenger aircraft, with new cabin portals being unveiled that measure a whopping 4.5 feet x 1.5 feet.

The Skyview Panoramic, developed for Boeing by aerospace firm Fokker Technologies, will offer unrivalled views from 35,000 feet, but will only be installed on corporate planes.

11) A new kind of airport

The experience of waiting in an airport can be hellish. Yet, slowly, improvements are being made. Singapore’s Changi airport - with its own patch of rainforest - is a shining beacon for what could be achieved. In early 2019, the airport’s $1.7 billion Jewel extension at Terminal 1 is expected to wow fliers with a five-story garden of forests, an indoor waterfall, hotel and hundreds of restaurants and shops inside a huge glass dome.

changi jewel overview large

Airport developers are also promising new city airports that are entertainment hubs and destinations in themselves, where people can travel to in order to eat, watch a film and even go to the office, as well as catching a flight.

 

Within 10 years...

12) Standing on flights

The idea of squeezing more passengers onto flights - and reducing fares - by letting people stand, is one innovators return to again and again. VivaColombia is the latest carrier to express interest in so-called vertical seating, akin to perching on a bar stool.“There are people out there right now researching whether you can fly standing up,” VivaColombia's founder and CEO William Shaw said.

Vertical seating – or “bar stools with seat belts”, as Ryanair dubbed them – was originally touted by Airbus in 2003. The idea has since been developed by the Italian firm Aviointeriors, which claimed its SkyRider perch could reduce space on an aircraft by 25 per cent.

Watch this space.

13) Going supersonic

Supersonic flight - where passengers will once again be able to zip across the planet at wondrous speeds - is the ultimate goal of many aviation futurologists. Last year Sir Richard Branson backed a start-up called Boom, which unleashed a prototype supersonic jet. “Concorde’s designers didn’t have the technology for affordable supersonic travel. But we do,” said Boom’s owner at the time, adding that the prototype is a step towards making New York accessible from London in 3.5 hours.

Nasa, meanwhile, says it has designed a plane that will fly from New York to Los Angeles in six hours but crucially, with a shape that gives it greatly reduced sonic boom, 50 per cent quieter than Concorde. Once paid for and built, Nasa could test the plane in 2020, as long as the environmental concerns of supersonic travel have also been addressed by then.

14) Wider use of biofuels

Biofuels could be the answer. Efforts to reduce pollution from aircraft have focused on the use of biofuels mixed with aviation kerosene, which contain less of the harmful sooty particles that form part of the contrails that streak across the sky. These later form cirrus clouds.

"We know these contrails and cirrus clouds have a warming effect on the Earth's climate, and it's currently thought the warming effect associated with those clouds is more significant than all of the carbon dioxide emitted by aviation since the first powered flights began," Richard Moore from Nasa's Langley Research Center, told the Science In Action programme on the BBC World Service.

Nasa in early 2017 ran a series of tests on the exhaust plumes of planes that were using normal airline fuel mixed with fuel derived from Camelina oilseed plant and found that black carbon was reduced by at least 50 per cent.

 

Within 20 years...

15) The end of security checks

Technology is being sought that can be used to monitor passengers as they move around an airport. Constant screening is expected to take the stress out of queuing up to be assessed by security guards. The goal will be to deploy “a security infrastructure that’s constantly screening people from the door to the gate, and not having this toll-booth mentality,” according to Seth Young, director of the Center for Aviation Studies at Ohio State University, in a report for Skift.

In 2014, officials at Helsinki Airport trialled using travellers' Wi-Fi connection to track them as they moved about.

16) More flight delays

The fliers of the future will have to contend with more delays, we have been warned. As the skies get more crowded, delays at UK airports will be '44 times worse by 2030', according to figures from National Air Traffic Services. Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, has claimed that a radical shake-up of the country’s airspace is needed to cope with the increase in air traffic.

17) More turbulence

It’s bad news for nervous flyers. Incidents of severe air turbulence are likely to get worse as climate change takes hold, scientists claim. A recent study found that the jet stream winds along the flight route between London and New York are getting stronger because of climate change and are 15 per cent stronger in winter. This increase in the jet stream winds is expected to create more turbulence.

 

Within 50 years...

18) Pilotless planes

Now that driverless trains are on their way, tests for pilotless planes are being scheduled. Boeing has reportedly made plans to test artificial intelligence technology in a cockpit simulator in 2017 and then use it to fly an aeroplane next year.

future robotpilot large

The airline’s next challenge would be convincing regulators that it is safe to use with passengers on board. Commercial flights can already take-off, cruise and land using “fly by wire” technology but will not be deemed safe to us until they can land a plane safely in an emergency. It is thought that current technology is some way off from achieving this but others believe it is a possibility within 50 years.

The image shows PiBot, a robot driving an airplane in a simulator, exhibited at the 2016 Tianjin World Economic Forum.

 

Scary Times Ahead EH!!!!!!

 

 

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