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Say goodbye to endless queues and boring duty free: APH reveals the airport of 2040

APH Future of Airports external rendering
The miserable experience of fumbling for lost boarding passes and endless queueing at airports could finally be a thing of the past, as airports of the future will feature biometric tickets, virtual assistants and fast molecular security scanners.
Airport parking operator and retailer Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) has created a model of how an international airport could realistically look in 25 years, including descriptions of what passengers’ experiences will be like, using technology that is already being trialled and developed.

The research shows how check in - a major source of queues and frustration for travellers - will become an automated doddle by 2040.

As well as more online check in to avoid queues, passengers will be given a biometric token that will serve as their passport, boarding pass and ID for the journey, without having to keep hold of their separate documents.

In order to be issued with this token, each traveller will be scanned for biometric identifiers unique to them, such as iris patterns. The technology is already proving to be a faster alternative to manual passport checking following tests at Heathrow and Schiphol airports.

Similarly, with security being such a major concern in air travel, checkpoints are currently a major bottleneck at airports. However, technological advancements will remove the need to open every bag and for passengers to walk through metal detectors.

Instead, laser molecular body scanners, originally designed for medical use, will be used to screen for banned materials or liquids hidden in clothing or luggage. Effective from several metres away, these will allow people to simply walk past a scanner, rather than wait in another queue.

On arrival, the seemingly endless wait at the baggage carousel will also be a thing of the past, as chips embedded in either the cases themselves or the tags will not only track each item’s destination and location, but will send smartphone notifications when they’re ready to be collected.

This means that passengers will instead be able to spend their time browsing the airport’s touchscreen shopping walls, or asking for travel information from one of the many virtual assistants. Using a more advanced version of the technology in today’s chatbots, these will provide customer service and advice, while being able to talk fluently in a variety of languages.

Beverley Barden, head of marketing at APH, said: “Airports are all too often a trying experience and one of the worst aspects of jetting off on holiday.

“What the future of airports project shows is that, in a few years, technological advances will enable airports to create a much more pleasant experience and work around the issues that they currently face.

“Through this research and the models we have created, we are able to predict what the airport experience could realistically be like in the near future, and it’s going to be very exciting to see it take shape.”

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