Flying can be stressful and I think we can make it less so if airlines and airports adjust things for the future. Here’s a quick note/draft what I’d change if I was an airline/airport:
Check in online, pick seat, no check in at airport possible anymore
Drop baggage off on machine only (Schiphol has this, others are installing it)
Walk through to gate, scan e-ticket with smartphone (preferrably NFC),
No more luggage allowed after customs than a single backpack. No possibility to pay to carry-on more. Backpack or rolling small suitcase max. Be strict and standard with carry on limits.
Give people possibility to SHIP their giant luggage items for cheap, airline can pick up big luggage at home (for extra fee) and bring big luggage to hotel. This makes way more sense than lugging it around yourself! You should only need to carry a backpack max.
Make exceptions for people who are less abled.
NFC scan passport at customs (Amsterdam Schiphol has this), in future use passport NFC on smartphone
Get push notification when you need to go to gate to board in 30 mins
No voice announcements on airport system allowed, everything through push on smartphone.
Boarding can happen segmented (by seats or class) but passengers have to alerted based on their boarding times. Thus business class passengers might get a push at 12:00 to board 12:30, economy at 12:20 to board 12:50 etc. Remove waiting.
Board plane, final scan of e-ticket with smartphone NFC to verify identity, no voice announcements or music here either
On plane, no music except maybe white noise, sit down, get cabin notifications through push notifications on smartphone and/or on entertainment screen in seat (make it skippable). For example “welcome to this flight, I’m your captain etc”, show pilots profile, show real-time flight data (altitude, speed) and out board camera stream. Send flight updates like “we’ll be landing 30m later due to busy airport”. All of this on smartphone via a standardized system that IATA (the airline industry association) should develop.
Security tutorial at beginning should be skipped and watchable as a video on demand instead.
Plane is segmented into light and dark area, people can buy seats based on that choice, also segmented babies and children area for lower price (because they cry)
Again no cabin announcements, no music, no distractions ever.
After landing decrease wait time, open doors ASAP and get people out.
No baggage pick up area, instead go to baggage machine, scan NFC smartphone, get suitcase delivered from inventory (takes 5 min).
No customs papers to fill out or baggage declaration, instead scan smartphone NFC at customs machine, push notification if you have anything to declare, if yes and human is necessary human comes out and helps you, otherwise walk on.
Now you’ve had a flight without being interrupted by useless information, without being woken up by useless sounds and lights, without being treated as human cattle and everything went by faster and way more comfortable!
By the way, I'm writing a book called MAKE, which you can pre-order now. And I'm now on Instagram and Twitter too if you'd like to follow more of my adventures. I don't use email so tweet me your questions.
How to fix flying