The year may soon be coming to an end, but travel technology news continues to ramp up. While travel regulations seem to change on an almost weekly basis, we’re keeping a finger on the pulse of travel technology. We’ve gathered five key travel technology headlines to keep on your radar this month and beyond.
Simple Flying: How NASA technology is improving air travel
Technology developed by NASA that coordinates better aircraft movement (and gets planes from the gate and into the air faster) will roll out to several U.S. airports in 2023. The air flight scheduling technology - named Airspace Technology Demonstration 2 (ATD-2) - will be integrated into the FAA’s airport surface management technology and implemented at 27 airports across the U.S.
In the four years NASA and the FAA researched and tested the technology, it was proven to improve efficiency and shift departure wait times from the taxiway to the gate, save fuel, reduce emissions, and give airlines and passengers more flexibility before takeoff. Since implementing the technology in September 2017 at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, NASA reports that the integrated arrival and departure system (IADS) tools saved more than 1 million gallons of jet fuel by September 2021. Reducing jet engine run time decreased maintenance costs and saved airlines an estimated nearly $1.4 million in flight crew costs. Overall, passengers were spared 933 hours in flight delays and gained an estimated $4.5 million in value of time.
During the height of the pandemic, many travelers sought solace in scrolling through social media channels for vacation inspiration. Reports show that the average American spent 176 hours scrolling social media for travel inspiration in 2020. Of those scrolling, three-quarters (76%) of users said the experience made them want to travel more, which should pique the travel industry’s interest.
Social media heavy-hitters Instagram and Snapchat provide travel-hungry viewers the option to purchase trips thanks to technological advances that allow for integrated, in-app payment features. Users can scroll through to explore vacation ideas then click to purchase virtually - it’s as easy as liking an image! Industry pundits report that the travel sector is showing the highest uptake in the expected frequency of digital usage post-Covid vs. pre-pandemic. We’re sure to see additional social media platforms - as well as virtual stores - join the effort to capture travelers’ dollars.
National Geographic: 5 pandemic tech innovations that will change travel forever
While travel numbers were shockingly low in 2020 due to the pandemic, many venues are looking at alternative ways to reach their audiences who cannot, or choose not to, attend events in person. From exploring the ruins of Petra, Jordan, to viewing the glory of the Northern Lights, travelers can use augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to visit online exhibits and experiences using just a computer or smartphone.
Travelers willing to venture beyond their doorstep can take part in a multitude of AR and VR events: From a simulated climb up the Matterhorn at Lucerne’s Swiss Museum of Transport, to immersing themselves in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” at Ireland’s The Hunt Museum, and to meeting digital forms of extinct animals face-to-face at The Museum of Natural History in Paris. Explore AR/VR and other travel options in this NatGeo article.
Finnair has announced that starting December 3, travelers can use a new digital tool to confirm their coronavirus certificates (a.k.a. vaccine status) before their journey begins. The initial rollout of the tool will benefit travelers heading from Finland to Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland. The tool will also be part of the current online check-in process or done through the Finnair app. The airline will expand the tool to include other destination countries at a later stage.
While the service is presently limited, the airline aims to add an upload functionality to enable customers to upload or scan their coronavirus certificates for verification. Finnair expects to expand destination coverage once this new feature is in place, opening up the world for further exploration.
Aviation contributes to climate change in a number of ways, and this topic was top of mind during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow. The rising interest cast a light on the need for alternative methods of flight, including hybrid-electric aircraft that run on a combination of battery power and conventional combustion engines.
While the goal of COP26 was to bring together representatives from all nations to discuss climate problems and solutions, the conference itself set a record for CO2 emissions, with air travel identified as the main culprit. CNBC reports that nearly 60% of the summit emissions are estimated to come from international flights. Emissions associated with accommodations, event policing, and transportation to and from venues also added to the tally.
These stats enforce the importance of monitoring emissions for air travel and all activities surrounding events. As savvy consumers’ interest in carbon emissions continues to increase, travel providers need to ensure that they are providing less harmful services to the environment to gain their business.