The risk of human-to-human virus transmission has never been so much in the spotlight, and the travel industry is trying to adapt to a new world of airport health screenings and contact-free security. Although some of this technology may have been around for some time, its application has now surged.
Touchscreen technology has been around for some time. But, only COVID-19 forced companies to look at touchless tech, which uses biometrics to verify bookings and identity. This means mobile boarding passes and transition towards iris scans and AI facial recognition, already being implemented by Delta Air Lines.
Skipping airport security queues could be closer to reality than we think. In order to stop over-crowding, airport queues will become ‘by appointment’ only. We may move to a reservation-only society, with little room for last-minute travel.Montréal-Trudeau International Airport has begun asking passengers to book their own security screenings, eliminating the need for a queue.
Luggage will have to be spray-disinfected and then ‘sanitagged’ on the check-in belt before being put on the plane. Hand luggage will be quickly sanitised via UV rays or fogging while in the X-ray security machine. Changi Airport is already implementing the sanitisation of trolleys, check-in kiosks and security trays with a long-lasting antimicrobial coating to reduce transmission.
Autonomous payment systems
The introduction of digital payment systems straight from your phone could eliminate the need for tills. The world will go mobile and contactless at an incredible rate. The thought of handling paper tickets and paying with cash will quickly become things of the past. Robots could even be used to deliver purchases to duty-free shoppers.
Imagine if viruses could be detected during travel. With effective health testing incorporated into the security process, that could become a reality. South Korea’s Incheon International Airport is deploying temperature-taking robots in solo kiosks, while thermal screening in Hamad International Airport, Qatar, is implemented by robotics and special helmets.
No matter how much airport sanitisation takes place, there’s an element of human transmission that can be eradicated by the use of cleaning robots. Hong Kong International Airport was the first to trial full-body disinfection booths and Intelligent Sanitisation Robots. Cleaning robots are also deployed throughout Changi Airport.