AI-Powered Personalisation and Immersive Technologies, Are You Ready For The Flight of the Future?

Could you imagine a future where Aviation Technology delivers aircraft seats that use biological scanners to gather travellers' physiological and nutritional needs?

If you are looking for somewhere to go this summer, make sure you pencil the BA 2119: FLIGHT OF THE FUTURE exhibition. Presented by British Airways, a leader in Aviation Technology, the exhibition shows how the future of air travel could include hyper-personalisation, immersive virtual realities, 3D printed health solutions, modular aircraft connected to city infrastructure and hypersonic flying. Working in collaboration with the Royal College of Art (RCA), BA has come up with BA 2119: Flight of the Future, an exhibition now open at the Saatchi Gallery in London.

LONDON, UK: British Airways BA2119 Flight of The Future event in collaboration with the Royal College of Art at Saatchi Gallery in London on 30 July 2019 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

The Future of Air Travel According to BA

In July, British Aways released The BA 2119: Flight of the Future Report. Commissioned by the airline, to mark its centenary year, the report was one of the most significant global consumer travel studies of its kind – surveying 13,000 consumers across ten countries. Working in partnership with leading data-led trends agency Foresight Factor and leading sector experts and futurologists, British Airways’ goal was to offer a picture of what flying could look like in 20, 40, 60 and even 100 years from now.

“Consumers want far greater personalisation from their flying experience does not come as a surprise.”

Excited to partner up with British Airways Josh McBain, Consultancy Director at Foresight Factory, said:“The insights we gathered for this report from eight countries and over 13,000 people give the clearest picture we have ever had of what customers expect from their future flying experience and the work we have done with futurologists and aviation experts paint an exciting picture”.

5 Key findings From The Report

Consumers want far greater personalisation from their flying experience does not come as a surprise. This is because customers nowadays demand experience, so I am sure that it is a trend that will continue 10-20 years from now. The report states that overall, 46% of people want a dedicated communal space for socialising. This was more popular with those in emerging markets (Brazil 47%), India 69%, China 55% and South Africa 47%) than with passengers in the UK (30%), Germany (22%) and Japan (20%) who preferred a more private experience. 

LONDON, UK: British Airways BA2119 Flight of The Future event in collaboration with the Royal College of Art at Saatchi Gallery in London on 30 July 2019 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

In the future, greater personalisation could be using 3D printing to accommodate individual requirements. For example, your food and drinks could be 3D-printed on board the aircraft and also 3D printers could also be used to print personalised health supplements. Personally, I like the idea of AI-powered personalisation. Imagine being able to bring cloud-based work and entertainment profiles to your seats. Sounds wonderful right? Just as wonderful as the idea of holographic flight attendant taking care of your questions and requests.

Consumer demand for ultra-convenience and personal autonomy also emerge as key trends of the study, with passengers especially keen on speeding up their whole travel experience while still on board the plane. For example, 73% of passengers want inflight technology that allows them to self-complete immigration and visa control while they are still in the air. 63% of consumers would like an in-flight concierge to organise a hotel for them when they land, and a further 56% would like to book a taxi from the air to pick them up when they arrive. 

LONDON, UK: British Airways BA2119 Flight of The Future event in collaboration with the Royal College of Art at Saatchi Gallery in London on 30 July 2019 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

Overwhelmingly, consumers say that the future will see the end of airline “classes”, and the rise of bespoke packages where consumers pay for a customisable experience, based on options for space and entertainment. I like the idea of that. Also, the environment is a crucial consideration for travellers, with 43% of people prepared to pay more if the flight was more environmentally friendly. These concerns trump the need for speed, with 45% saying they would opt for the slowest available plane if it were the greener option. 

Delivering Future “Air Cruises”

Experts involved in the research have predicted that consumers expect planes to be powered by electricity and alternative fuels. Can you imagine commercial planes having the ability to recharge in the air using aerial recharging stations? It is an idea that could enable planes to travel for much longer distances more sustainably and also an average flight from New York to London will fall from seven hours to three.

“within 50 years we will see a trend for slow, experiential flights as consumers seek a leisurely start to their holidays.”

The report predicts that within 50 years we will see a trend for slow, experiential flights as consumers seek a leisurely start to their holidays. “These flights could take the form of “Air cruises”, which will see travellers fly slowly over areas of special interest, such as the Pyramids, while interactive VR guides give passengers an immersive running commentary”, stated the BA press release. They also add that other options available to passengers travelling on an air cruise include onboard yoga, meditation or art classes. 

On the report, British Airways’ Chairman and Chief Executive Alex Cruz said: “The findings of the BA 2119: Flight of the Future Report not only offer us unprecedented insight into how consumers across the world feel about flying now, but what they will expect from us, like airlines, in the future. In the last ten years alone, the airline industry and flight experience have changed in so many significant ways, including improved fuel efficiency, noise reduction, in-cabin design and luxury. It is therefore not hard to see how, at this rate of progress, these seemingly unreal predictions will come true”.

LONDON, UK: British Airways BA2119 Flight of The Future event in collaboration with the Royal College of Art at Saatchi Gallery in London on 30 July 2019 (Picture by Nick Morrish/British Airways)

He continued: “This is a really exciting way to mark our centenary, which has seen us remember the past, celebrate the present and predict the future in collaboration with fantastic partners from across industry and academia.”

ALSO READ: Deutsche Telekom x Lufthansa: The Future of Smarter Flying Starts Now

The concepts in the BA 2119: Flight of the Future Report have been brought to life by post-graduate students at the Royal College of Art in a special exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London which runs throughout August. The exhibition also includes a one-of-a-kind, full-motion, virtual reality experience, Fly. Built by award-winning VR creators and an Oscar-winning practical effects team, Fly enables visitors to become a time-travelling pilot, from the earliest imaginings of Leonard da Vinci and his ornithopter, to the Wright Brothers’ success on Kitty Hawk, to that first inaugural passenger flight to Paris. Users will experience Concorde, the brand new A350 and the imagined flight of the future.

BA 2119: FLIGHT OF THE FUTURE presented by British Airways, running until 26 August 2019. Ready to book your tickets?

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