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Airline Technology Trends 2019

Feb 02th 2018
Vistair explore some of the top airline technology trends for 2018 and beyond

The airline industry, much like technology, is constantly evolving and adapting to new consumer habits, expectations and requirements around safety and security. As such, airlines are always looking for ways to adopt new and emerging technologies such as document management systems into their organisations in order to enhance both the customer experience and internal operations alike. In this article we take a look at three examples of technology trends that airlines are using to shape the future of the industry for 2019 and beyond including:

While the adoption of technology is slowly but surely being adopted by airlines, IATA's Future of the Aviation Industry 2035, states that the industry only "react to new technology rather than lead the way." However, there's no doubt that with the continuous stream of disruptive technology being developed, airline's across the globe are becoming pioneers of change by implementing them. Read the the rest of the article to find out how airlines are using the following technology which will become more prominent in 2019.

Biometric Technology

Biometric technology such as fingerprint scanning or facial recognition on smartphones is already being used by millions of people around the world as a way to enhance security. Recently though, it’s also been adopted by airlines and airports to transform the customer journey. US carriers Delta Air Lines and Jetblue, for example, allowed for select passengers to trial using their fingerprints at the boarding gates instead of their boarding pass and will eventually enable fingerprint scanning for identification purposes to check-in baggage. This technology could very well eliminate the need for boarding passes and cut down on the need for crew to be present to manually scan them at the gate.

British Airways also trialled the use of biometrics as early as 2017, where 4,000 people tested the facial-scanning technology at Heathrow airport as well as the self-service bag drop points implemented in both Heathrow and Gatwick airports in a bid to “simplify and speed up [their] journeys through the airport.” Additionally technology such as the self-service bag drops are becoming more prominent - Scandinavian Airlines for instance have self-service points in Oslo Airport, Gardermoen. This technology will continue to be implemented for both domestic and international boarding points for the future.

AI and Robotics

Artificially intelligent chatbots is another form of technology that boomed in 2017 and is widely used around the globe already by many different industries. In the case of the air transport industry, more airlines are continuing to focus on providing AI services to their customers. For instance, KLM has incorporated the use of chatbots into the customer journey - the BlueBot (or BB) allows for customers to book their airline tickets through the Facebook Messenger app. A more basic way chatbots can be used is to answer simple questions, therefore freeing up resources required by human agents for more complex customer service issues, such as the one used by Icelandair.


Many airlines and airports are also looking into newer and better ways to enhance the customer experience. In a research study conducted by Medallia, it was found that customers who experienced great service in the past were likely to spend 140% more compared to customers who had a poor past experience.

With this kind of thinking in mind, it’s no surprise that airlines want to up their game to provide customers with a better experience in order to gain loyalty in turn. Air New Zealand is one such example of offering an enhanced service to foreign travellers by trialling Google’s Bluetooth Pixel Buds - headphones which offer live translations in 40 languages using the Pixel handset. This kind of technology can further bridge the gap between languages and make for a smoother, less frustrating customer journey. 

The customer experience is also being looked at by Gatwick Airport in terms of navigating around the airport - which can be a confusing and stressful experience for many. Some 20,000 Bluetooth beacons have now been fitted to power Gatwick’s wayfinding tool in augmented reality, which can help guide users to specific locations using the on-screen arrows. The next stage is to allow for airlines to integrate the tool with other systems to send customers personalised information, such as real-time flight information.

Cybersecurity and the Cloud

With safety and security paramount to the air transport industry, it’s understandable that 95% of airlines and 96% of airports plan to invest in major cybersecurity programmes over the next three years and 95% of airlines.

Moreover, as the cloud market matures, it is now seen as the most secure and scalable way of holding and processing organisational data - such as document management for aircraft OEM data and other important airline documentation. By having all your airline’s documents within a centralised database, it can do away with silos of information, which can increase security risks and disrupt organisational efficiency.

Additionally, using a cloud-based document management solution can further benefit airlines in helping them create a more effective way to improve compliance as well as save time, money and resources in the long-run.

However, it must be noted that as systems and aircraft are becoming more connected, there is a growing risk of cyber threats and attacks. It is therefore important for the airline industry to:

"Have an active approach to cybersecurity, harmonizing standards, and developing prevention and detection strategies that move beyond their own systems."

[Source: IATA, Future of the Airline Industry 2035]

A digital future

There are already a vast number of benefits which can be seen in what technology is able to provide for operations, cybersecurity and the customer experience, and this will constantly develop and strengthen as time goes on. 2019 looks to be the era of digital transformation with technology becoming a part of everyday life within all industries, particularly so in the air transport industry. So airlines must start to embrace technology advances to not only develop their current services and products, but to gain competitive advantage before they are left behind in the digital dust.

The cloud is just one of many technologies helping airlines become more efficient, safer and compliant. Learn how embracing new technologies can benefit your operational efficiency by reading our free insight.