FCM’s Innovation Spotlight: September

Travel News 02 Oct 2017

Our monthly insight into all things #TravelTech related. The latest on new technology launching and being talked about across the business travel industry.
New Check-In Technology at latest Changi Airport terminal

Travelers at Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4 will be able to utilize a high-tech check-in system when the building opens. Featuring automated kiosks, facial recognition software and more accurate baggage scanners that allow laptops to remain in bags; the system is geared at streamlining the check-in experience and bringing the latest of security technology to bear in the battle to maintain safety standards while improving efficiency. The new terminal will increase Changi Airport’s capacity by almost 25% to deal with projected increases to demand over and above the 66 million travelers already using the international hub. It is hoped that such innovations can help Changi keep its status as ‘worlds best airport’ as voted by passengers, a position it has held for five consecutive years.

Virgin Atlantic to offer Wi-Fi Across All European Aircraft

Airline Virgin Atlantic has announced it will now offer wireless internet access to all passengers on its 39  daily transatlantic services using a combination of Panasonic and Gogo technology.  With a host of data packages ranging from ‘Messaging Pass’ to a ‘Max’ deal, customers will be able to select the level of access they are willing to pay for during the flight. So far Virgin claims its most popular offering is the ‘Max’ package being taken up by 42 percent of passengers and including 150MB of data. “Innovation has always been in our blood and we’ve worked closely with Wi-Fi providers to develop the fastest, most reliable connection across the Atlantic, and are the first carrier to offer Wi-Fi between the UK and the Caribbean, China and Africa” said Virgin Executive VP Mark Anderson.

United Introduces Amazon Alexa skill

In a first for a U.S. airline, United customers will be able to use Amazon Alexa to check their flight status, review flight amenities and check in. Amazon Echo and Echo Dot users only need to add the ‘skill’ to their Alexa app in order to access this new feature. Travelers will then be able to simply ask ‘Alexa, ask United: What is the status of Flight 959?’. Customers can also connect their MileagePlus accounts to Alexa to enable check-in for upcoming flights, although this is limited to domestic flights in the United States at this time. "Introducing the new skill to check in and receive flight information with Alexa is an innovation that gives our customers extra time to prep for a business meeting, play with their children or relax as they get ready for their upcoming flight” said Praveen Sharma, United’s Vice President of Digital Products and Analytics.

Chinese company announces new ‘flying train’ to compete with Hyperloop

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASA) have announced plans to build a new generation of ultra-fast trains capable of traveling at speeds up to 2500mph. The state-owned enterprise is deeply connected to China’s growing defense and aerospace industry, previously developing missiles, rockets and satellites.  China already has the world’s largest high-speed rail network, and CASA intends to use its expertise to help keep improve it. The announcement is widely perceived as a response to the recent successes of Elon Musk’s ‘Hyperloop’ concept in the testing phase.

Self-Cleaning TSA Bins at Ohio Airport

Ohio’s Akron-Canton airport will be the world’s first to use nanotechnology to make passage through TSA checkpoints more sanitary. New self-cleaning TSA bins are to be used in its security lines. The lining and handles of these bins were develop by NanoTouch Materials, and use mineral nano-crystals that react with light to cause a self-cleaning oxidation reaction to keep the often used objects sanitary and clean. The process, called ‘photocatalysis’, is a more powerful cleaning agent than bleach and continuously breaks down and cleanses contaminants.