Air travel may be a normal part of life for most people, but it can often get unpleasant. Complaints regarding flights, airports, and airlines have become a common occurrence, making the drive to the nearest airport one filled with dread. Many travellers wonder what will go wrong this time or simply dislike the idea of being crammed in a tiny space for several hours.
While there is no magic bullet that will transform air travel into a pleasant, enjoyable experience, there’s a lot of potential to make things easier with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). In brief, the IoT basically places internet-connected sensors in everyday objects, allowing them to communicate more effectively with the user and other items. The possibilities this technology opens up are nearly endless no matter what industry is being discussed, and airlines are definitely no exception.
Many airlines have already caught on to this potential. A recent survey from SITA found that an impressive 86% of airlines think the Internet of Things will lead to clear and significant benefits for them and their customers. That promise is already being put into action for some as the same survey showed that 37% of airlines are already budgeting for the technology. Beyond the current strategies used, 16% of airlines plan to start major IoT programs by the year 2018, with 41% expecting to do more extensive research and development into IoT in the next few years. It’s clear that in whatever form it takes, the Internet of Things will have a major role to play for airlines and airports.
Many have already begun taking those beginning steps into the IoT realm. At Miami International Airport, for example, a new mobile app called MIA Airport Official takes advantage of hundreds of newly placed beacons around the airport. Travelers who use the app can receive information based upon their own needs and current location. If they need help knowing how to get to their terminal, the beacons can pinpoint the traveler’s smartphone and send them specific directions along with an estimated time for their arrival. In this sense, travelers can plan out their time in the airport more efficiently and ensure they never miss their flight. The same information can be applied to finding baggage carousels, information kiosks, and airport restaurants. The airport says feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive.
Delta has also started to implement several IoT improvements, most of them geared around the manufacturing and maintenance of planes. With IoT sensors, Delta is able to gather and analyse data gathered from airplane parts, from the engines to the electronics. This allows the company to keep a closer eye on the current performance of their airplanes. If an issue looks likely to happen in the near future, an airplane can be repaired before it turns into a major problem. This saves on the amount of downtime aircraft will experience along with the money needed for those repairs. Every big data problem can be solved as engineers are notified of these issues from an early standpoint.
The IoT’s role will go beyond aircraft maintenance. Much of the potential lies in helping customers out in multiple ways. One of the biggest headaches travellers experience usually entails the transport of their luggage, but the IoT can ease those worries. Through the IoT, airlines will be able to track luggage at every step of the journey, from the moment travellers check in to the moment they grab their bags from the carousel. Not only that, but customers will be able to see where their luggage is at any moment. This will create greater peace of mind as travellers won’t have to worry about the possibility of losing their stuff in the middle of transit.
The Internet of Things can also lead to better booking options, tailor made deals and offerings for individual customers, and even more comfortable travel for pets. More efficient airport operations will ensure the millions of travellers every year get where they need to go with minimum hassle. In short, the overall flying experience will be greatly improved. Airlines understand the potential that the IoT brings, and a thorough implementation of the technology will lead to incredible improvements that will one day making air travel more pleasant once again.
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.