Business, Design, Technology

Air travel needs the window seat

October 27, 2015

Read time 4 min

Remember the days when air travel was all glamour, beautiful air hostesses and PanAm’s wonderful advertising? Well, the world has come a long way since. And yet, as passengers – we do not really seem to be getting the same joy out of the experience.

In an environment as complex as the air travel ecosystem, where safety is top priority – and fragmentation is the norm, innovation can be tough going. Stakeholders come in the shape of airlines, travel agents, technology providers, tour operators, independent booking engines and many more, which means that the passenger experience is far from seamless.

So, where to begin if one wants to change the industry? There is no right or wrong answer, so we believe the best way is to just get started.

Thanks to some of the fantastic work Finnair and Reaktor have carried out together over the last year or so, the idea of bringing the world’s top talent to create their very own vision for the future of the industry came about. Our resolve was further strengthened by adding an invaluable partner in Finavia, and what a few months ago was a mere idea out of left field, is just about to become a reality.

You see, we are of the belief that air travel as an industry can very much benefit from taking a look out of the proverbial window. Although cross-pollination of ideas and innovations is true and valid across many industries, air travel has remained introspective to its own detriment. We live in a world where airlines are forced to play catch-up with increasingly tech-savvy and empowered travellers in a difficult economic climate. All the while trying to protect their business and trying to carve out whatever possible from minuscule profit margins.

Enter you, the hackers.

The Reaktor team behind the new IFE.

You guys are in a privileged position. Not because you will be joining the hackathon (that would be small-minded of us), but instead, you are in a privileged position because history has shown us time and time again that; when key players in an industry, technology providers and hungry people ready to make a difference get together – great things are bound to happen. You are privileged because you belong to a very small group with the tools, knowledge and opportunity to make a meaningful difference in one of the world’s biggest industries.

So, to set the tone and get the engines started – below are just a few unstructured thoughts we have been having about the industry, to give you some inspiration. The first piece of advice we would like to give you is, do not be afraid to think big. Our panel of judges will be looking at your code, of course – but we are also looking to judge you on your vision:

  • Air travel is perceived as a ‘caste system’: Have you ever thought what would happen if you built technology that would encourage the industry to do away with the traditional model of First class, business class Vs everyone else?
  • Redefining loyalty programs: There is much that airlines can learn from gaming companies. How would you design a fairer, more engaging and meaningful loyalty program experience?
  • Simplify booking: The average person in Germany spends 30 + hours booking travel. Can you come up with the next big service for people to book and buy travel?
  • Ancillaries done right: If you’re a service designer you’ll love this! How can airlines sell additional services and products throughout the travel experience?
  • Educate vs entertain: In-flight entertainment is a key differentiator for many airlines. Can you create a great way for young travellers to not just be entertained, but also learn during their journey?
  • Airports are emotionally-loaded environments: Airports are as much a part of the experience as planes themselves. How would you enable new and interesting interactions within this environment?
  • What happens in a plane stays in the plane: How would you go about creating a more meaningful relationship between travellers and the airline? One that extends beyond the confines of an aircraft cabin or a flight, for example.
  • ‘Onboard-first’ design: Remember when ‘mobile-first’ design first became a thing? We are looking for unique experiences that are designed specifically for an onboard experience.

Happy hacking!

Yours in travel,

the .AERO crew

Finnair, Reaktor, Finavia

This post was also published on HackJunction’s website.

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