By Courtney Trenwith
From printing your own baggage tags to automated migration and self-boarding, travelling is becoming more and more sci-fi
Airline passengers will progressively have more self-control over their flying experience, from printing baggage tags at home to self-boarding, according to initiatives being tested by various international airlines.
As travelling by air becomes more efficient, passengers also would be responsible for re-booking their own flights in the event of disruption or cancelled flights but would have better ability to track their checked-in luggage, Michael Herrero, the Gulf area manager of International Air Transport Association (IATA) told an aviation conference in Dubai.
Security checks also are becoming more seamless. Herrero says the time taken to pass through automated border controls was expected to shrink from 2-3 minutes to 30 seconds.
Other areas being worked on are visa information and processing.
"We'd like to move as many processes as possible from the airport," Herrero said.
Dubai International Airport already has implemented electronic visas and last week it was revealed the General Directorate for Residency and Foreign Affairs was considering removing immigration counters at Terminal 3 - used exclusively by Emirates Airline. Instead, passengers' passport details would be sent to immigration officials when they booked their flight for pre-flight approval.
Herrero said the UAE was leading the world in aviation innovation, with an "impressive" 27 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) coming from aviation.
"The UAE is one of the examples in terms of aviation world-wide," he said.
"Part of the success is the vision that the UAE has put into aviation ... (while) they have realised all the benefits."
But the number of global air travellers is forecast to double to 7.6 billion by 2030, according to IATA.
"The question is 'are we ready for that?'" Herrero asked.
"The main issue is tackling queues. Passengers are more and more impatient.
"Passengers are also telling us that their experiencing at an airport is considered (when booking a flight)."
Airbus Middle East marketing head Paul Moultrie said it may also be possible to conduct immigration checks on board, prior to landing, in the future.
At the same time, security measures are being enhanced at airports.
Herrero said that would involve enhanced cooperation between airlines - who would increasingly be responsible for collecting passenger details pre-flight - airports and authorities.
However, airports - of their governing bodies - needed to have better trust in each other's security checks to eliminate re-checking arriving and transit passengers.
"There's no enough progress in terms of one-stop security because it's an issue of pride," Herrero said.
"Many airports here are testing security of other airports ... but probably they do a double check because European and US airports aren't seen as being of the same level of quality as airports here.
"We're trying to push ... that airports here would benefit a lot from one-stop security."
With the number of travellers growing exponentially, advancement in air travel needed to speed up.
"We're late in terms of implementing these initiatives," Herrero said.
"We're going to have double the passengers in 20 years so let's be ready."