How can AI transform the future of air-travel post-COVID?

Here at AI Daily, we’ve already written articles on how AI is shaping the aerospace industry. But today, we’re digging deeper into the customer experience. If/when you next go on holiday, undoubtedly, things will be much different compared to years past. As automated technology has been brought to the fore during the pandemic, how will AI change the way you fly?

One such example of how AI can be used is to do with connecting flights: machine-learning models, created through a collaboration between University College London researchers, Harvard Business School professors and Heathrow airport, have helped airport staff better anticipate the number of people passing through immigration real-time and the number of people likely to miss their connecting flight. This information can allow them to proactively offer support as soon as said individuals disembark. Two years after this model was first trialled in 2017, passenger flow prediction errors have dropped over 20% (Source: Harvard Business School Digital Initiative). And it’s not just Heathrow who want in on this model: Paris CDG, Singapore, LAX…just a few of the big-name airports eager to implement similar facilities at their own airports.

Binge-buttons and tailored recommendations: one of the biggest uses of AI is increased personalisation of a product/service. Even just recalling the articles I’ve written myself, many are about taking data and using it to customise suggestions (the Louis Vuitton one comes to mind here). Delta are trying something similar…trialling the ability to binge-watch a box set of shows on their IFE (In-Flight Entertainment) system without interruption as well as predictively suggesting shows you may like based off previous selections (a la Netflix). This may reduce the time you spend leafing through menu screens, increasing the time spent actually watching the IFE content.

Predictive food uptake? Although the name might seem straight out of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”, British Airways (BA) are using AI to gauge customers’ interactions with their buy-on-board food and beverage schemes. These algorithms can minimise the amount of food wasted, which is both good for the environment and reduces BA’s operational costs, whilst still ensuring everybody receives their first choice meal. The idea is great in concept but runs the risk of leaving unhappy customers when (if?) the algorithm gets its predictions wrong.

No doubt, AI will be used more in post-COVID air-travel, from airport cleaning robots (like those of Brain Corp!) to even just ensuring that you get the salad you ordered on-board. The future looks bright for AI in air-travel!

Thumbnail by Indigo

Ayushman Nath