Flying higher – trends

Business class cabin view
Business class, cabin view, luxury

While most passengers are focused on finding the most cost-efficient fare for their trip, airlines and airports are constantly investing in innovations to improve passengers’ travel experiences.

There’s much in the pipeline, whether it’s an in-flight virtual reality game that helps reduce motion sickness or finding the balance between exclusive in-flight shopping and online retail.

These five trends are already changing the way that passengers experience aviation – but the possibilities remain endless, with the passenger likely to be the biggest winner in the long run.

Another step up – premium economy

It used to be fairly black and white (or is that front and back) on airlines, with passengers only able to choose between economy class and business class, with some flights offering a cut-above first class. However, more and more airlines are introducing a premium economy class, offering a premium choice for passengers who cannot justify the cost of a business class ticket, but who seek the comfort and amenities offered by a seating option that makes it easier to work while airborne. Emirates, Austrian Airlines and Iberia led the way in this development – watch out for others to follow.

Low cost carriers fly high

While low-cost carriers (LCC) have been plying their trade really successfully for decades, these affordable no-frills options are expanding their reach globally – including in Africa. The likes of fastjet (  and FlySafair (  offer truly no-frills flights, with most LCCs operating national or regional routes, rather than long-haul destinations.

Bigger on biometrics

According to Future Travel Experience, airports are increasingly using biometric data to make the passenger experience more seamless. Hong Kong and India are leading the way in innovation in arena, with the first change likely to be making it possible for passengers’ faces or irises to be their boarding passes – no more bits of paper or fumbling for a phone app when preparing to board – a simple scan will do the job.

Going green

Despite the inevitability of the sizeable carbon footprint of flying, many airlines are making small but effective changes to reduce their impact on the environment. Delta Airlines, for example, has removed any plastic wrapping from its main cabins on international flights, while many airports are looking for ways to reduce noise pollution and increase their use of renewable energy sources.

The robots are coming…

…but they’re the good guys! Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is home to two robots – one can speak in several languages to help passengers who don’t speak a local language and who need help, while the other is a cleaning robot. Robots and self-driving cars are being trialled in luggage management elsewhere too – hopefully leading to less time wasted at the carousel at the end of the flight.

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