Airline Innovation Roundup: Sponsored Passengers, Face Recognition Passports and Modular Cabins.

By Hélène Dubos | Trends & Innovation

Oct 13
Airline Innovation Roundup

The airline industry is constantly looking for ways to deliver exciting new services and increase customer satisfaction. Here’s three exciting ideas for airline C-suites and marketers.

Like disruptive ideas? Iceland’s WOW airline has promoted the idea that airlines could pay travellers to fly with them.

The concept is based on the theory that, given enough data about passengers and their flying habits, airlines could make enough money out of ancillary sales to cover the cost of a free ticket, or even a sponsored ticket!

Passenger could also earn points by sharing their airline experience on social media. It makes sense. A 2014 article by Adweek (link below) reported that 58% of people will purchase based on a friend’s social recommendation. If a passenger with, say, 200 Facebook friends and 300 Twitter followers says how great your airline is, that’s worth paying for.

By the way, read our blog post if you’re interested in using A/B testing to increase airline ancillary revenue by 19 euros a seat.

Biometric scanners could replace physical passports in airports.

Historians suggest that the first passport was issued by Britain’s king Henry V, back in 1414. Biblical scholars argue that the first passport was a document given by Persian king Artaxerxes to his subject, Nehemiah, in 450 BCE. In both cases, the respective king asked that the holder of the document be given safe passage, and informed other countries that the traveler was under the king’s protection.

Fast forward 2,500 years from Nehemiah’s journey from Persia to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and passports have remained pretty much unchanged. The latest versions contain holograms and biometric data but, essentially, it is still a physical document.

All that could change if facial recognition technology is installed in airports. Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald (link below) reported that the country’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection has unveiled plans to test facial recognition technology at airports.

The result? No more passport checks or immigration cards. Passengers (at least those whose biometric and facial recognition data was on record) would wander freely around the airport, and board/exit their flight without human intervention.

In an ambitious program, Australia aims to have 90% of travelers processed with the ‘contactless’ technology by 2020.

Airbus design group imagines modular aircraft interiors that change for each flight.

Introducing Transpose from Fly Transpose on Vimeo.

Imagine a plane that could be quickly fitted out for particular journeys. A low-cost shuttle flight arrives at the airport, and the ‘high density’ seating is quickly changed for sleeper bunks as the plane’s next journey is an 8 hour overnight flight. At the next destination, the interior is changed again, this time to a ‘spa and restaurant’ configuration to take holidaymakers to their resort.

That’s the concept from the Airbus design team at Transpose (link below). And it’s an innovative design that could happen quickly because the ‘slide in / slide out’ modules could be applied to the freighter variant of current aircraft.

Transpose say that because of the cost and complexity of changing aircraft interior layouts, configurations normally remain in use for 7 years or more. But with a modular approach, airlines could re-purpose the aircraft on demand. Companies like Starbucks or McDonald's could even have ‘ready to go’ modules that were simply slotted in at each airport.

Airline innovation. News sources.

WOW of Iceland floats idea of paying passengers.

58% Will Purchase Based On Friends' Social Media Recommendations.

A brief history of the passport. The Guardian.

End of the passport? Australia to test facial recognition.

Using A/B testing to increase airline ancillary revenue by 19 euros a seat.