The Covid-19 pandemic has no doubt changed the way we travel. Border restrictions are constantly changing. Many borders have closed, reopened, and then closed again. For many people, even moving within one country is confusing, let alone across international borders. From contactless security to airport health screenings, the travel industry has had to adapt quickly. We’ve talked about travel apps, now let’s take a look at some travel technologies that are here to stay, even when Covid-19 is a thing of history.
1. Automated health kiosks
Temperature checks and health testing are now the norm when travelling through airports. How are travel technologies streamlining the process and making it more effective?
At Incheon International Airport in South Korea, contactless robots are doing body temperature checking. In the Middle East, Qatar’s Hamad International Airport is using robotics and advanced thermal screening helmets as part of its preparations for post Covid-19. These forms of automated health and travel technologies are minimizing the need for human contact during health screening process.
2. Disinfection robots
Hong Kong International Airport was the first to trial full-body disinfection booths and Intelligent Sterilization Robot, which are capable of killing 99.99% of bacteria and viruses in the air. Autonomous cleaning robots are also deployed throughout Singapore’s Changi Airport. They are equipped with a misting attachment that disinfects carpets immediately after cleaning. The airport is also testing the use of UV disinfection robots for handrails of escalators and travelators.
3. Touch-free technology
Touchscreen technology has been a big part of our travel industry. Think touchscreen check-in kiosks, directories and TV screens on the back of airplane seats. However, with Covid-19, these forms of technologies have the potential to become a hotbed for virus transmission.
Touch-free technology marks the new era, which uses biometrics for check-ins and verifying identity. American Airlines, Delta Airlines, British Airways, and JetBlue all offer options to board U.S. flights with facial scans instead of a boarding pass. Instead of fingerprint scanning, facial and iris recognition is now also the primary biometric identifier for travellers at Changi Airport. Biometrics testing is underway at many airports around the world – and this is only set to increase.
4. Smart queueing technology
Travelling without going through security isn’t going to be a thing, but long lines and sharing plastic trays can cause potential transmission. To get around this, Montréal-Trudeau International Airport is asking passengers to book security screenings slots, thus eliminating the need for a queue. Seattle-Tacoma Airport and Denver International Airport are also testing the new system. More airports may adopt this in the future, with going through security becoming by reservation only.
5. AI security systems
The landscape of travel technologies is changing with AI playing an increasingly significant role. They can conduct advanced body scans to detect any threats, such as explosives and firearms. Japan is one of the countries investing in this technology, and they aim to introduce an AI-based system over the next few years that will detect contraband via AI-analysed X-ray images. Oakland International Airport in the U.S. is also now using an AI screening platform, which can screen 900 people in one hour!
6. Sanitised travel
Airline marketing strategy firm Simplifying predicts that ‘sanitised travel’ will be here to stay. Bags will be ‘sanitagged’ by going through fogging at check-in belts before going onto the plane, and hand luggage will be sanitised at x-ray machines. Airports around the world have already implemented the sanitisation of trolleys, check-in kiosks and trays with antimicrobial coating. Many airports now manually spray down luggages before they leave the airport, and this could soon be done via machines and robots.