Skift Take

Airlines need to balance the incredible promise of more connected tech with improved customer service from the humans they employ.

Everyone has a vision for what the future of travel will look like, but some people’s forecasts matter a bit more.

Lufthansa’s Chief Strategy Officer Sadiq Gillani belongs in that latter category. Last weekend at a TEDx event in Berlin, Gillani laid out how he sees the future of the passenger experience, from dreaming and booking to departure and return.

“Air travel is far from being a hassle-free experience,” he explained. “My vision is a hassle-free travel experience enabled by technology which is also environmentally sustainable.”

There’s nothing in his talk that’s too far out; with most ideas already being trailed by airlines or technology companies like SITA or GuestLogix. “Hopefully you won’t have to wait too long for thise innovations to take palce. Maybe they’ll even be ready before the new Berlin airport opens.”

A video of Gillani’s talk is below. We’ve pulled out some of the more interesting points.

Leveraging mobile: “Imagine for example you’re about to go on a trip, heading to the airport and your taxi is stuck in traffic. Now imagine that your airline is able to locate you via their app, calculate your delayed time of arrival to the airport and automatically re-book you in the next flight. Or if you arrive at the airport early and there is space available, the airline automatically books you on an earlier flight.”

The planning process: “Pricing transparency has given power to travelers over the airline,” he says. “Over the next decade that power will shift back to the airlines. In the future airlines will be able to develop customized offerings for us before we have even decided on our destination, in the same way Amazon makes product suggestions.”

Customizing travel: “Imagine if the airlines were able to offer us special customized bundles exactly matching our preferences. Suppose you usually only take carry on-luggage like I do, like to eat a meal onboard and have an empty seat next to you, the airline can offer me a customized price for this unique package, giving a discount for the fact that I don’t check a bag and credit that towards the other items I actually want.”

The booking process: “The booking process will become much simpler, with mobile shopping the predominant method of purchase. It will also be faster, because we will have saved our preferences in our profile. After booking, a new travel relationship will start. Since flights are usually booked before any other travel arrangement, the airline will offer to be our partner to help us through the entire journey.”

Smarter pricing: “Airlines can try to attract me with lower ticket prices as they are able to evaluate total spend and lifetime value. This is something that some players in the casino industry are already able to do highly effectively today, even offering free airfare to high spend customers.”

Removing stress: “Airlines can do better to win the moments that matter, which today cause us tremendous stress. Before we leave home the airline will inform us of the traffic situation so that we can allow enough time or take the quickest route. The airline will also automatically inform us of security waiting times so that we can plan accordingly.”

Beating jet-lag: “After your flight, forget about jet lag. Through special glasses, which adapt to each passenger’s level of light exposure, we’ll arrive ready for our destination time zone.”

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Tags: lufthansa

Photo credit: Lufthansa Chief Strategy Officer Sadiq Gillani. TEDx Berlin / YouTube

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