How Will AI Impact Air Travel in 2024 and Beyond?

How Will AI Impact Air Travel in 2024 and Beyond?

By Tomasz Pawliszyn・Last updated on May 13, 2024

As the aviation industry continues to chart its course for 2024, the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) is proving to be an invaluable tool for businesses looking to improve their operations. A recent report from McKinsey highlighted the significant potential of AI, suggesting it could unlock between $2 trillion and $4 trillion in annual value across global industries. Whilst its power is unmatched, stakeholders are grappling with AI’s impact on business and the wider society, without much context to help them make sense of it.

We are already seeing AI technologies redefine the travel sector with the introduction of facial recognition for airport check-ins, enhanced security operations and streamlined boarding processes. Looking ahead, AI is poised to transform the aviation space, helping to heighten competitiveness, elevate customer service, and provide seamless real-time communication, all serving to benefit the overall customer experience.

Enhanced Personalisation

Customer engagement has become increasingly fragmented in the travel industry due to the proliferation of communication channels. Passengers are now using a mix of touchpoints meaning no two customer journeys look the same. Travel companies have no choice but to consider how to navigate these unique journeys, whilst promptly providing relevant information for each individual and their needs.

This is where AI comes into play - with algorithms available, travel companies can analyse vast datasets, including historical travel data, customer feedback, social media interactions and user profiles to identify patterns. This unified view of individual customers enables them to make accurate predictions and suggest relevant travel options that align with passengers' preferences or interests.

These personalised travel recommendations can positively impact the customer experience. By providing tailored offerings, travel businesses can stay better connected with their customers throughout their journey and across various touchpoints. This will help position the organisation as a trusted advisor, enhancing its brand reputation and ultimately bolstering customer loyalty in the longer term.

As data is continually processed and stored within AI systems, algorithms become more intelligent. This is because the technology will have a larger knowledge base that it can use to identify, understand and tailor patterns and decisions found within data sets. The result is that AI will develop alongside the organisation, gaining the ability to make enhanced uniquely targeted messaging at a faster and more accurate rate.

Proactive and Real-Time Communication

Customer service continues to be a problem for airlines and airports alike. In our recent survey, we found that passengers scored airlines 3.13 out of 10 when rating their satisfaction with the care they received when facing a flight disruption. A fundamental element of improving customer service relates to travel companies becoming more proactive with their communications, with our survey suggesting that customer satisfaction levels can increase by 60% when passengers are provided adequate information.

By implementing the vast capabilities of AI, travel companies can adapt their processes to improve their customer service and raise ratings across the board. AI tools, including chatbots and virtual assistants, can be leveraged to provide real-time customer service to passengers around the clock. These chatbots are already transforming how the industry connects and communicates, with their ability to provide quick and personalised responses in the customer’s language.

AI for Regulatory Compliance

Adhering to the increasing number of rules and regulations is imperative to stakeholders across the travel sector. AI technology can not only help to automate and streamline labour-intensive compliance processes, but it also offers a proactive and data-driven approach to identify and mitigate compliance risks instantaneously. Armed with the relevant data, airlines and airports can make informed decisions, thereby achieving regulatory compliance with greater efficiency and lowered costs.

Taking air passenger rights as an example, AI can help travel companies navigate the complex legal frameworks across the globe, whilst ensuring the company is adhering to the relevant regulations. It can also streamline the claims process for compensations and refunds.

AI also presents an opportunity for the travel sector to anticipate and adapt to evolving regulatory landscapes. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, airlines can continuously monitor regulatory changes and updates, ensuring timely adjustments to their operations and policies. This proactive approach not only minimises the risk of non-compliance but also fosters a culture of regulatory agility and adaptability within the industry.

Improving Sustainable Travel

Furthermore, AI has an important role to play in supporting travel sustainability initiatives, in line with increasing environmental awareness from consumers and external market pressures. Using this technology, airlines can optimise network planning, adjust flight schedules and manage aircraft capacity to boost efficiency and reduce emissions, whilst promoting carbon offset programmes to mitigate environmental impact.

By automating several manual or routine tasks with AI, travel businesses can focus their time and resources on more critical tasks, such as implementing eco-friendly practices in aircraft manufacturing and operations. Additionally, it can help airlines scale their sustainable operations with predictive analytics and insights helping to identify critical points and potential opportunities for improvement.

Bracing for Impact

From predictive analytics to route optimisation, AI-driven solutions are forecasted to elevate every facet of the passenger's experience. Focusing on efficient and highly personalised solutions tailored to individual’s needs, AI brings the possibility of improved customer service and real-time communication to ensure passengers are better informed of their rights when travelling.

This signifies the next phase of the travel industry and the positive impact AI will have on making travel more convenient, tailored and streamlined for passengers across the globe. AI advancements show no signs of slowing down, with its value rising to even greater heights than what was perceived as possible years prior. In fact, AI is set to contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030, which is more than the current output of China and India combined. Of this, $6.6 trillion will be generated from increased productivity and $9.1 trillion is likely to come from consumer consumption.

Going beyond the benefits for passengers, AI also creates new opportunities for travel businesses to evolve in line with changing regulatory and compliance requirements, and environmental pressures. As an industry, we are optimistic about the changes ahead and open to how we can continue to improve travel for the better now and in the future.

This article originally appeared on The AI Journal.

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