Today, airports are a textbook liminal space — they facilitate your trip from one destination to the next, but are not a destination in and of themselves.
They’re also far from a perfect facilitator: hiccups such as a lost bag, delayed flight, or poor customer service can upend your travel experience. Airports play a critical role in how your trip goes, and these days, it’s not always a positive experience.
According to the Oliver Wyman Forum (MMC), as technology continues to improve, the airport experience will become more seamless, while also expanding to include more shopping and entertainment options.
Right now, dozens of new technologies are in the works to help airports improve their operational efficiency.
A few examples include artificial intelligence, facial recognition tools, cleaner fuels, biometric scanners, and more impressive amenities. Many airports are already implementing these technologies and, over the next few decades, the improvements are expected to become even more prevalent.
These technologies are being designed and implemented to ease common airport bottlenecks like getting through security, keeping track of your passport, and dealing with flight delays or cancellations. The Oliver Wyman Forum is so optimistic about the future of airports, it characterized the coming shift as a “revolution.”
Terminal of Tomorrow
As technology advances, airports may eventually be able to do away with check-in counters and security lines altogether. Without these sections, airports could make room in the floor plan and budget to expand their amenities. This could include shopping centers, recreation facilities, entertainment venues, and perhaps even schools.
Airport CEOs described this vision as an “aerotropolis” — a self-sustaining mini-economy, where business, education, entertainment, shopping, and travel all come together. For now, as you grapple with delayed flights and other travel inconveniences, keep in mind there may be clearer skies ahead.
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