Streamlined security predicted
Imagine boarding a plane without having to endure customs queues and increasingly intrusive security checks.
CAP Strategic Research, a consultancy group, has predicted a time when passengers will not have to go through emigration and some 'trusted travellers' will be able to bypass security checks.
The group said that a more streamlined boarding approach may be adopted by all airlines and airports as early as 2025.
'Airlines are losing out to high-speed trains because of waiting times at immigration or security at airports,' said Roger Thomas, managing director of CAP Strategic Research. Airlines should be more like trains in terms of security checks and baggage-handling, he said.
Thomas predicted that airports would one day dispense with check-in desks, emigration staff counters and security checks for 'trusted travellers'.
As on-line check-ins and self-check-in kiosks become more popular in airports around the world, airlines were starting to make online and self-check-ins mandatory rather than optional, said Thomas. Qantas, for example, is removing check-in desks.
Human emigration checks would be bypassed by machine-scanned ID cards. Fingerprint IDs is another time-saving trend, he said.
So-called 'trusted travellers', as categorised by the International Air Transport Association, will not be subject to security checks in the future, Thomas said.
Trusted travellers are mainly frequent or business travellers who are willing to undergo a thorough security vetting process by police or government departments prior to travel.
Thomas warned, however, that the programme, which is reportedly supported by 19 countries including the US, might arouse concern from other passengers worried about flying with passengers not passed through security checks.
Thomas also predicted that airlines will stop checking in luggage for free to make room for more lucrative commercial cargo in the hold.