The pandemic has heightened awareness, increased hygiene concerns, and broadly prioritized healthcare protocols. Resultingly, airports, and the aviation industry as a whole, now need to maneuver through this global crisis and come up with holistic solutions to understand the new requirements of passengers and fulfill them effectively.

The concept of contactless travel has gained traction to adhere to COVID related restrictions and health concerns. A combination of advanced and innovative technologies including biometric verification, facial recognition and touchless body temperature detection kiosks are now springing up at terminals all over the world. These devices are crucial to create airports that deliver a safe and comfortable passenger experience as a part of the new normal. Further, significant transformation to the overall travel experience is being fostered with the help of data and its analysis in real time.

Challenges at the airport

Lockdowns, travel bans, and controlled quarantine measures continue to impede the recovery of the travel industry. Airport capacities were not designed to adapt to COVID protocols and social distancing regulations. The insufficiency of staff at screening checkpoints, security counters, and baggage handling has, in many a cases, slowed passenger throughput. Queues can seriously hamper social distancing protocols and lead to potential health risks. Further, Inconsistencies in flight schedules due to country-specific restrictions have also led to delays at airports. Overcoming these challenges requires operational flexibility, smooth collaboration, and technological readiness.

Redefining the air travel experience with innovation

Contactless technologies have become crucial in supporting the recovery of airports. Digitalization and touchless technologies have accelerated the efficiency of airport management at various passenger touchpoints, enabling the conversion of several manual processes to turn human free.

Physically, many airports are now using a multi-layered approach to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission. With the help of diligent cleaning systems and advanced ventilation devices, health standards for post-pandemic travel are strictly being maintained. To further reduce any risk of transmission, passenger services are being delivered through the self service channel. Self-service Kiosks and automated boarding gates at airports ensure smooth and contactless movement.

New age travel experience

Contactless technology remove the need for manual data inputting. Even though sanitization measures are implemented at various airports, contactless systems specifically, do not need constant monitoring owing to the lack of direct contact.

User-friendly mobile applications assist airport visitors in navigating the premises of the terminal. Many airlines are now switching towards mobile apps to communicate flight details, alerts, baggage information and status reports with customers. These customizable apps can be used at airports to inform, track, and alert visitors about social distancing measures as well.

Passenger time optimization

Digital identification, such as biometric verification, have become an inevitable part of the new travel norm to get rid of manually-intensive operations. With the help of facial identification, you could go straight through the boarding gate, allowing time optimization, eliminating long waiting time at various checkpoints.

With the introduction of biometric based processes at airports, passengers can take advantage of fast-track services. A recent example of this is at Dubai Internationa Airport, where a biometric system was implemented that uses AI technology. Biometric enabled smart gates allow for an enhanced passenger experience, and provide a completely contactless experience.

Smart baggage kiosks

Self-service bag drop or SSBD can be defined as an automated technology designed to provide complete control to the passenger at the point of check in. This terminal reduces queuing and check-in time, enabling a safe and secure journey. Its user-friendly interface allows passengers to print their bag tags, boarding passes, and drop-off baggage. Smart terminals provide substantial benefits to travelers and airport management staff. They allow for:

  • A comfortable travel experience.
  • A smaller manual workforce.
  • Time optimization.
  • Convenient check-in.

With the steady increase in passenger throughput each year, the need for space optimization is a priority.

Enhanced lounge experience

With its ability to convert data into usable intelligence, the use of AI has been quite significant to improvise operations and thereby the overall passenger experience. Self-service automated stations and sanitizing robots at airport lounges enable a contactless experience. Passengers can now also order meals by grabbing a meal device with a QR code, eliminating the need for any human interaction. Touchless technologies can also create a premium, tailored experience for travelers looking for comfort. Many concepts, several of which combine innovative technology, are now being configured across airport lounges to foster a safe and comfortable passenger experience.

Smart airports with contactless technology

The pandemic and its effects have plummeted the confidence of travelers. Technical advancements have played a crucial role in restoring assurance and lifting off some pressure. Despite providing a safe travel experience, these innovations sometimes raise doubts about privacy protection and personal data security. Many stakeholders in the travel industry are finding ways to address these challenges, whilst simultaneously investing in newer, innovative platforms to enable better customer service.

The implementation of cloud-based technology has provided a breakthrough in creating touchless experience. Further investments in cutting-edge technologies at airports can go onto promote sustainability and efficiency, potentially mitigating future disruptions.

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