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Taking the turbulence out of travel

With a dynamic and consistent shift in the global economy and geopolitical equations among countries, there has been an evolution in air travel globally in the last fifteen years. The global airline industry has reported an increase in the number of passengers in the last fifteen years. According to Statista, the Asia Pacific region had the highest share of airline passenger traffic accounting for around one third of the global total in 2018. Not just an increase in numbers, the tectonic shift has been observed in terms of an uplift in infrastructure, operations, customer experience among others.

Over the next twenty years, the airline industry is set to witness double the number of customers. With travel becoming an important source of revenue for many countries, the need to make it seamless becomes imperative so as to attract more customers. This poses the challenge of coming up with a robust infrastructure that can be used for security, logistics, user information entry, etc essential for the travel.

The air travel sector has realized that there is a need for a fluid system that will not only help tackle the demand rising out of increasing passenger traffic but also switch to automatic systems in order to tackle the demand rising out of increasing traffic.  

There has been some extensive research and development involved in creating automated systems across up and coming airports across the globe. From simplifying the check-in process to automated bag drop off points, a lot of interventions have been incorporated into airport infrastructures to provide fluidity to passengers in their travel experience while ensuring the highest standards of safety and security.

Automatic systems help in controlling passenger rush during peak travel times and simplifies the check in process. This system is increasingly becoming popular due to the rise in air traffic over the years. These systems have revolutionized the check-in process with automatic kiosks thus saving time for passengers to a great extent.

Studies show that the more passengers have access to the use of technology, the higher the rate of satisfaction is, thus allowing the passenger experience at the airport to be improved.

The increasing investment in airport infrastructure has also introduced contactless technology. This has been largely prompted due to the pandemic. Contactless biometric is one of the aspects of this technology which makes the passenger boarding process at the airport contactless and smooth. Not only does this reduce waiting time but also diminishes the physical obstructions due to the presence of sensors in and around terminals. While American airports have embraced advanced tech, the airports in the Middle East and Asia aren’t far behind.

By deploying these solutions, airports are ensuring that no passenger has to stop for their check-in processes which could take several minutes out of their time. The new biometric process simply checks the passenger in without having them to stop to look at cameras or putting their fingerprints for identification.

Due to the pandemic, contactless technology has been emphasised as a requisite and its demand has increased for many solutions providers. Thus airports are taking steps to make the entire boarding process contactless. For many solutions providers, this is not limited to boarding or immigartion services. They are trying to enhance the overall customer experience right from the moment the passenger enters the airport and proceeds for his check-in process. Having electronic gates at airports have also contributed to this process to a large extent by easing the movement and making it more agile. The government’s Digi Yatra initiative is creating a unique loyalty program kind of structure for travellers. You can log in to the program as a passenger and when you travel, you don't need to carry your documents, your face becomes your identity. When you book a ticket online, you just have to mention your Digi Yatra ID number and the system will identify you at different checkpoints and you wouldn't need to show your boarding pass and ID. This system is currently being deployed and is targeted to complete by March 2021 in four airports across India.

The increased digitization at airports will also take into consideration the scaling up of security systems. AI and ML would also be deployed for passenger screenings. Technologies to ensure that contact is kept to the bare minimum between two people would be very popular. Some airports are also trying to incorporate behavioural analysis in their check in systems to go a notch higher in terms of security and safety. The gestural features of a signature or the driving of a vehicle indeed characterize an individual unambiguously. Still, their implementation is problematic in a context of mobility, such as travel, involving security checks or identity controls. Image analysis would also make sure that no objects posing security threat could breach the airport security checkpoint. The whole process would be transparent, safe and seamless.

By: Jandeep Singh
Date: 2nd April, 2021