What will the airport of the (near) future look like? I’ve got a story in the current issue of AFAR that lays out that scenario. Here are some of the highlights.
Your face is your ticket
Get ready for single-token travel. A facial scan and an initial look at your passport is already all you need at some airports.
Smart(er) security lanes
Time-saving, stress-busting security checkpoints will soon be universal. Improved technology speeds up the bin-loading process and allows TSA officers to scan carry-ons quicker and find bags containing prohibited items in a flash
Food and merchandise comes to you, wherever you are in the airport. OTG’s tablet-centered ordering and grocery-style self-checkout lanes are expanding, as are app-powered mobile delivery services such as Airport Sherpa and At Your Gate, already on-duty at the Baltimore, San Diego and Newark airports.
Where’s my bag?
Lost luggage is a bummer. But more bags arrive as promised thanks to airports that employ tools such as radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and monitoring apps to track bags from the time they’re accepted at the airport to delivery at the bag claim.
Find your car – and an open restroom stall
High-tech lighting systems guide travelers to open spaces in giant airport parking garages and direct home-bound passengers to lost cars. Airport restrooms are high-tech too, with occupied/unoccupied signals over the stalls and technology that alerts maintenance teams to lavs that need cleaning.
Count on cryptocurrency.
Australia’s Brisbane International led the way by letting travelers pay for purchases with cryptocurrency. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport followed with kiosks that exchange leftover cash for Bitcoin. Count on airports, the first and last city stop for international visitors, to embrace digital currency as its popularity rises.
A nap or a night at the airport
Short-stay cocoon sleeping pods and microhotels from the likes of Minute Suites, Sleepbox Hotel, and Yotel offer weary passengers recharging rests inside terminals. For longer stays, look for more full-size airport-adjacent hotels, such as the InterContinental at Minneapolis−St. Paul Airport, opened in July, and the TWA Hotel at JFK International, due in 2019.
Airport cities offer milk, medical facilities and more
No longer ‘just’ transportation nodes, airports are branching out with full-service grocery stores, medical facilities, movie theaters and entertainment centers. The observation deck at Incheon Airport’s new Terminal 2 offers virtual reality experiences, while Singapore’s Changi Airport 10-story Jewel complex (opening 2019) promises the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.
Go to Miami – or Mars
As space travel and space tourism moves closer to reality, some airports plan to double as spaceports, so travelers can set out across an ocean – or out of this world.
What features are you hoping pop up at the airport of the future?