British Airways is exhibiting the findings of a report on what travel will look like in the future during the BA 2119: Flight of the Future installation at the Saatchi Gallery in London.
Taking place during August in collaboration with the Royal College of Art, the exhibition features art created by post-graduate students, including a “one-of-a-kind”, full motion virtual reality experience called Fly. The experience enables visitors to take a look at the history and potential future of human flight.
The BA 2119: Flight of the Future Report was commissioned by the airline to mark its centenary year in collaboration with data-led trends agency Foresight Factory. It features a survey of 13,000 consumers across ten countries, as well as consultations with sector experts and futurologists to look at what flying will look like in 20, 40, 60 and 100 years in the future.
Greater personalisation topped a list of desires among consumers, with 46 per cent saying they want a dedicated communal space for socialising. However, a more private experience is popular among UK passengers – only 30 per cent said they wanted to see public spaces.
According to BA, greater personalisation could be delivered in future through aircraft seats that use biological scanners to gather travellers’ physiological and nutritional needs. This data will then be used to suggest food and drink options to meet individual requirements, which can then be 3D printed on board the aircraft. Such printers could also create personalised health supplements to help passengers acclimatise to the destination and combat jetlag.
Survey respondents believed the future will see the end of airline seat “classes”, which will be replaced a customisable experience based on options for space and entertainment.
In addition, consumers said they would like to see technology that could provide convenience and autonomy. Seventy-three per cent want in-flight technology that allows them to self-complete immigration and visa control while they’re still in the air and 63 per cent wished for an on-board concierge to organise a hotel for them when they land. A further 56 per cent would like to book a taxi from the air to pick them up when they arrive.
BA says this desire for personalised, self-driven services could lead to a hyperloop-style transport system whereby passengers get into modules configured to their requirements. As the module travels through the hyperloop tunnel to an assigned compartment on the aircraft, processes such as check-in, visa checks and preferences around food, drink and entertainment choices would be automatically carried out.
Environmental concerns also featured as a major consideration for consumers when it comes to the future of flying, with 43 per cent saying they would pay more if the flight was environmentally friendly. A further 45 per cent agreed they would opt for the slowest available flight if it was the greener option.
To deliver on such demands, experts predict future aircraft will be powered by electricity and alternative fuels, with the ability to recharge in the air using aerial recharging stations, enabling them to travel longer distances more sustainably.
Commenting on the report’s findings, BA chief executive Alex Cruz said: “The findings… not only offer us unprecedented insight into how consumers across the world feel about flying now, but what they will expect from us, as airlines, in the future. In the last ten years alone, the airline industry and flight experience has changed in so many significant ways, including improved fuel efficiency, noise reduction, in-cabin design and luxury. It is therefore not hard to see how, at this rate of progress, these seemingly unreal predictions will come true.
“This is a really exciting way to mark our centenary, which has seen us remember the past, celebrate the present and predict the future in collaboration with fantastic partners from across industry and academia.”
Josh McBain, consultancy director at Foresight Factory, added: “Aviation is a sector that is continually at the forefront of innovation, striving to develop technology to make flying faster, safer and greener than ever before.
“The insights we gathered for this report… give the clearest picture we have ever had of what customers expect from their future flying experience, and the work we have done with futurologists and aviation experts paint an exciting picture. From air cruises offering in-flight yoga to solar-powered planes and floating re-fuelling stations, the next 100 years of flying will push the boundaries of technology and change the flying experience as we know it beyond recognition.”
Download the full BA 2119: Flight of the Future Report here