Flying into the future

2 February 2012
Business travel (or indeed, most travel) today can be a stressful, tiresome experience. Incomprehensible booking systems, illogical security protocols and staff that believe passengers are an inconvenience are enough to make even the mild mannered despair. As a recent report into the future of business travel technology put it: “The novelty has worn off. Travelling to meetings and short stays in hotels have become prosaic and mundane for many. More importantly, they’re seen as duties and chores that encroach on domestic life.” This stress has been exacerbated, says James Woudhuysen, professor of forecasting and innovation at De Montfort University, because “airports and airline operators are not incentivised to make life any easier for passengers”. The study is hopeful that technology can alleviate some of these issues. Facial recognition instead of tickets, discounts for group buying between people who don’t know each other and ‘smart’ luggage that knows which carousel it is on at baggage reclaim are all realistic ideas – although they are all some way off.

Something not so far away – launching this year - is the ability to choose who you sit next to on a plane. Airline KLM is to launch a service that will allow you to access the social media profiles of fellow flyers and select passengers with similar interests.

Predictably, many of the outlets that reported this saw it as an opportunity to increase the chances of a romantic liaison. This is perhaps unsurprising when a poll from a year ago found 45 per cent of passengers admitted to flirting on a flight, with 8 per cent leading to a relationship.

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