How Air Travel Will Change In Ten Short Years

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) is an industry association comprised of businesses and airlines dedicated to providing the best in-flight experience for passengers around the world. In doing so, APEX members evaluate every aspect of the airline experience – from design to entertainment, to convenience to dining. Recently, after collecting feedback from over 1,500 flyers across eight countries, the association released the results of their Global Passenger Experience Survey.

According to their press release on October 15, 2014, 36% of airline passengers are most concerned about staying connected while on a flight. As such, it’s highly likely that Wi-Fi and overall in-flight Internet access will soon become a ubiquitous feature on airplanes.

In fact, by the end of next year, most airlines will offer mobile check-in, ticket sales through apps, automated check-ins and automated self-service baggage tag printing. As detailed in the Chicago Tribune, we can also expect an automated individual “e-agent” that travels with you inside jewelry or a watch, and biometric data cards that will eventually replace passports.

Another important passenger concern is flight customization. Travellers are now hoping for a wider selection of food, drinks, and inflight entertainment, such as movies and books. Beyond connectivity, however, surprisingly only 38% of people cited “comfortable seating” as a top priority. In fact, most prioritize being on time, over seat selection and legroom.

Unfortunately for us, this means that economy class is expected to get even worse in the near future. According to the current issue of Airline Passenger Experience, APEX’s publication: “Seat manufacturers are now under constant pressure from their airline customers to focus on three design parameters: lighter seats, increased number of seats abreast with varying widths and reduced seat pitch.”

Ironically, however, as technology becomes increasingly more advanced, Apex predicts that airline seats will eventually have the ability to mold to your body and have individual climate control options (perhaps to compensate for the lack of leg room). Another forecast predicts that planes will be able to cruise at speeds “just short of supersonic level,” which could potentially reduce a 13-hour flight to a seven-hour.

But until then, APEX is focused on connectivity above all else. As APEX executive director, Russell Lemieux notes: “passengers are demanding more from their air travel experiences which will drive more innovations touching all aspects of the journey.”

Maybe this will distract passengers from uncomfortable seating arrangements.