The future of flying

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

What will the future for flying be like?

For many of us Brits, going on holiday is the highlight of our year and something we spend months counting down the days to.

Whether it’s a week or two lounging by a pool, or going on a sightseeing trip to a metropolitan city, many of these trips require us to go through the often long-winded process of getting through the airport, before we can relax and enjoy some time off. From getting to the airport hours before your flight only to sit in a dull departure lounge for the majority of that time, to the dreaded worry about whether your hand-luggage will be too large, it’s safe to say airports can sometimes be a pretty draining experience.

However, in the not-so-far-future, your airport experience is set to be transformed entirely. New technologies and developments are being planned across all areas of the airport experience to ensure your trip starts off as smooth and stress-free as possible. From getting through security much quicker – or bypassing it entirely as a ‘trusted traveller’ – to taking off on a double decker runway, the future of airports is set to transform the way we fly entirely and allow us to start our holiday and relax that bit earlier.

So, what can we expect?

scanners should be more sophisticated than than this discontinued one from Heathrow and able to spot liquids without having to remove them from cabin luggage


Hand luggage scanners in digital airports will mean passengers can keep liquids and electronics inside their bags

Getting hand luggage through security and having to sift through our bags for electronic devices and liquids is a necessary, but often tiresome process – especially for makeup lovers who can often hold up the queue getting all their products out!

However, next year, this process could be removed entirely in Amsterdam’s Schiphol, who are aiming to become the world’s leading digital airport. Currently testing two new hand luggage scanners that will allow passengers to keep liquids and laptops inside their bags for the first time, the first scanner being trialed at the Dutch airport uses a software that turns the contents of the hand baggage 360 degrees on all axes on a screen, allowing them to view it from all angles and detect any items that are prohibited.

At the moment, passengers will still have to put their liquids and gels in a clear, plastic bag with a volume no higher than one litre, with each individual container only permitted to have a volume of no more than 100ml. This bag however, can remain in the hand luggage. The project is aimed at making the screening process simpler and faster for passengers, improving their experience through the airport.

The project is being piloted in two security lanes, where passengers are being given an explanation for what to do with this new technology. If successful, these scanners will be implemented in all other security lanes.

In addition, these new technologies will also save people going through that tiresome chore of taking their shoes off at security checks. The Delta R scanner, which was developed by a small Dutch tech start-up is being tested at Schipol. This piece of technology is designed to detect drugs and any explosives, meaning for security staff, they will be able to immediately identify passengers carrying hidden substances with a few precious seconds to prepare before alerting them about their findings.

ChihiraKanae – This robot shown at ITB a few years ago is likely to be be replaced by smarter ones that will assist passengers and be able to undertake more tasks.

The implementation of both of these technologies will not only reduce the stress levels of passengers and their time, it also ultimately improves their safety and makes their airport experience far smoother and positive.


‘Trusted Travellers’ will be allowed to bypass security using a biometric security pass

Security checks are a crucial part of the airport experience, however did you ever expect it to change so significantly in just over 10 years?

By 2030, you may have the option to apply to be a ‘trusted traveller’, meaning you’ll be able to bypass the security section entirely at the airport. This doesn’t mean that you avoid having security checks however, as a trusted traveller you will have gone through a security vetting process undertaken by the police, security forces or government departments to ensure that you are safe to travel. This procedure will then give you a biometric security pass that allows you to bypass the security section at the airport.

Robots will replace check-in staff

In the same year, another fundamental area of the preflight experience will be very different, as you may find yourself talking to a service robot for any questions or advice about your flight – rather than a member of staff. These robots are expected to replace existing check-in processes and will have real-time airline customer data so they can provide you with an accurate and efficient personalised service.

Catching a flight can be a stressful ordeal, and there is nothing worse than getting frustrated with an unhelpful member of staff who is not responding to your needs. Service robots will ensure this doesn’t happen to you again as they will be able to detect a customer’s health and emotional state to ensure they are being served in the most appropriate way possible.

an airport queue at Gatwick

Will queues be a thing of the past by 2045?


Airport entertainment will include woodland features and touchscreen shopping services

Typically at airports, we are instructed to arrive a few of hours before our flight departs, however a lot of us then find ourselves stuck in a departure lounge for a good hour or so with little entertainment.

By 2045, the waiting stage of the preflight process is set to keep us entertained with touchscreen shopping services and online features such as waterfalls and woodland to give us a more enjoyable experience before we board our flights. As well as flight boards, virtual assistants will be on-hand to help with any concerns you have about your travels.


Your runway could be circular or double-decker

Runways are known for being long in length and width so the plane can get the start it needs to fly off into the clouds. But with a 300% increase expected in passenger numbers over the next 30+ years, airports need to find a way to increase their flight numbers whilst also saving as much space as possible. Circular runways and double decker runways are set to be a solution to this by 2050, with the former helping to tackle weather restrictions such as wind, allowing the plane to take off from any direction.

There are currently a lot of restrictions around building additional runways, and for the time being technology is being used to optimise the efficiency of runways that currently exist. Efforts are always being made to improve operations on the runway, such as aircraft and gate handling.

panoramic view of Heathrow

Heathrow showing, to the north, where a new runway might go. Will it be outdated in 20 years when circular runways might be the norm?

The concept of a circular runway could well be the answer to avoiding the physical constraints of conventional runways. Traditional runways rarely reach their declared capacity due to weather restrictions and dependency on other runways. A circular runway would be able to avoid these weather constraints as planes will be able to lift-off and touchdown at any point on the runway, facing headwind at any strength or direction. This type of runway would essentially be independent of the wind. In addition the size of the circular runway would allow space in the middle for the terminals to be positioned, make the whole airport compact, using less space.

An alternative option would be to reduce and alter the size and design of aircraft to enable them to take-off and land with less space. Current runways need at least 6,000 ft in length, however this could be reduced to 5,000 according to a report by International Air Transport Association.

With these technologies set to be implemented in just a number of years, are you ready to have your airport experience flown into the future?

Plug your age into this tool to find out how old you’ll be when these new features are expected to come into place.

This story was written by Vero Solutions.


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