How the Internet of Things is changing the way the world flies

Blog Posts:Mu Sigma
Published On: 17 April 2015
Views: 4625

The “Internet of Things” (the technology that allows disparate devices/ technologies to communicate with one another) poses many intriguing possibilities in terms of improving customer service – and one area ripe for improvement is aviation. According to JD Powers, overall consumer satisfaction with US airlines currently hovers at about 70 percent – and that’s an all-time high. In many other sectors, a 70 percent satisfaction rate would be viewed as fairly dismal.

Airline travel is complex, with many steps and many opportunities for things to go awry, some of which are out of the airline’s control yet contribute to the overall experience.

The experience starts with purchasing a ticket, and ends with the passenger leaving the airport at their final destination. How can the Internet of Things improve the experience along the way?

Arriving at the airport: Sensors at the security queues and GPS- enabled devices gauging traffic and other delays can communicate with a customer’s mobile device to ensure that he/she leaves for the airport on time and has enough time to get through security.

At the ticket counter/checking baggage: Video analytics devices and proximity sensors can help determine wait times, and even minimize them by dynamically altering staffing levels to alleviate long waits. Tracking devices can monitor luggage status and convey whereabouts to a customer’s mobile device (this is already being done today with technologies such as eTrack and eTag).

Navigating to the gate: Bluetooth beacons can help direct customers to the right security checkpoint and gate. Airlines could even provide details such as expected wait times and dynamic maps to help customers navigate large, crowded concourses to find shopping and restaurants.

At the gate: Sensors in aircraft and in the terminal will enable airlines to detect how many sold seats are empty and the location of passengers yet to board, so airlines can determine how long or if to hold a flight.

In flight: Several airlines are already using in-seat apps that gauge customer’s comfort and mood during the journey, and can communicate that data to flight attendants in case assistance is needed.

Exit from the airport: Baggage wait time can be calculated using tracking devices, and data sent to a customer’s mobile phone. Food and beverage outlets could offer pre-orders for customers, and begin preparing food based on their arrival time. Drivers would also know the moment their customers are making the way through the terminal after collecting baggage.

We have only just begun to scratch the surface on how IoT can benefit air travel. As IoT technology matures, many more possible applications will come to light. Air travelers, have you seen other examples of IoT at work in the airline industry?

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