Startup Mentality Opens Door to Airport of the Future


    Changi Airport Living Lab Programme
    Earlier this month, Singapore’s Changi Airport announced a $35-million initiative, called Living Lab Programme, aimed at reducing stress and streamlining the passenger experience. Image via Changi Airport

     APEX Insight: The tech startup mentality is catching on in the aviation industry, surfacing in airports’ efforts to streamline the passenger experience.

    Airports seek to make themselves attractive to passengers, and the businesses that serve them, by inventing new ways of effectively managing frenetic degrees of traffic. As such, they’ve joined airlines in setting up their own innovation labs.

    Singapore’s Changi Airport, already well-known for its passenger-centric design and amenities, is tapping into the startup mentality with a $35-million innovation initiative. Lowering stress is the name of Living Lab Programme‘s game – this extends beyond air travel itself, even looking for new ways to alert passengers to potential taxi wait times. The goal: a seamless passenger experience that augments security and interoperability. Robotics, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) are in the spotlight as one of the world’s biggest hubs seeks to maintain its place in the PaxEx firmament.

    On the other side of the globe, San Diego International Airport is also making changes. Understanding that passengers show up with their own devices is fundamental as the airport looks to simplify and streamline the passenger interface with the myriad services on offer. Leveraging technology like beacons and virtual reality, San Diego International Airport has launched an innovation lab to transform a 20th-century building into something not only future-proof but future-friendly. From baggage tracking to interactive art installations, the airport wants to actively partner with passengers to make air travel easy, productive and fun.

    Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport – the busiest in the world – launched ATL Thinks!, an innovation lab that gleans inspiration from inside and outside the airport, in 2015, to tackle the nagging problems of modern air travel. Among the main targets for improvement: security wait times.

    Airports are aiming to transform into places where people want to spend time, rather than places where travelers begrudgingly pass time. Harnessing the startup ethos of “test, fail, try again” could well be the key to opening the door to the airport of the future.