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Although planes have been around for over a century, it seems like technological advances plateaued for a while in the mid-to-late twentieth century. Yet in the last decade or two, airplane innovation has once again taken off, and now flying is faster, safer, and more enjoyable than ever before. Still, there’s a lot of room for improvement (both necessary and desirable), and thankfully a lot of researchers are working every day to accomplish this. We might not be able to smoke or bring water bottles onboard anymore, but we've gained headrest screens, live streaming television, and in-flight Wi-Fi recently, and the future is looking even brighter.
We explored the different ways airlines and airplane designers expect planes to improve in the future and not-so-distant future, and created a roundup of the most exciting things to look forward to in the world of air travel. A lot of these projects are in the very early stages, so proposed dates and timeframes were only included when available. Nevertheless, the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single air-mile, and it’s reassuring to know that we’re actively headed in the right direction. In the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. We will arrive at our destination shortly.
How did this take so long? One of the biggest gripes in regard to seats on planes is struggling for dominance of the armrest — something constantly faced in movie theaters before cinemas wised up and starting introducing seats with their own sets of armrests. A similar idea is being floated for planes, but instead of the movie theater idea (which would require planes to be wider or less seats to be installed width-wise), armrests and seats could be placed at two slightly different levels, so airlines and their passengers could utilize the same amount of horizontal space.
Better Bag Tracking
With fees for checked baggage, travelers are opting to carry their bags onboard now more than ever before. But even those who don’t mind an additional charge are still declining to check their bags for fear that the airline will lose them along the way. However, a new international regulation now requires the tracking of baggage during any change in custody, which means airlines are reexamining their entire baggage-checking process. Possible features include utilizing permanently-affixed RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags, the use of temporary or permanent GPS devices, or apps that allow passengers to check and track their bags from their smartphones. Thanks to these efforts, customers should not only expect their lost bags to be located and returned to them faster, but also less items going missing in the first place.
Although most of these features pertain to things you’ll experience after boarding the actual plane, a recent study found that just getting to this point was seen as the worst part of air travel for most passengers. With that in mind, biometric kiosks are now being tested in a couple airports (including Kingston and Montego Bay in Jamaica and Ben-Gurion in Israel) as well as at border crossings. These processes involve using facial photographs, iris images, and/or fingerprint scans to replace — or in conjunction with — passport scanners, in order to approve and track international travelers, which should increase both the speed and accuracy of security checks.
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