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One Airline Reveals The Future of Travel

March 22, 2019.

Several airlines offered so much good news last week that it was hard to know how happy to be. Delta, United, and Alaska all made noises about soon breaking even. Gary Kelly, Southwest's CEO chirped that this "feels like the beginning of the end." So along came American Airlines to helpfully prepare customers for what the end might really look like. It offered ABC's Good Morning America a glimpse at all the tech innovations it's bringing to the passenger experience. Some of them may seem a little chilling, even if the intention - officially - is to make passengers feel good.

This is the new normal. A normal where you go to the airport and are encouraged to touch nothing at all.

Instead, your face is your passport to everything but another country. You check in by staring into a camera. You drop your bag off by staring into another camera. It's surely the most glorious experience for all those who have obsessively taken selfies since toddlerhood. "Everything you saw at our airport today didn't exist a year ago," said Julie Rath, American's VP of customer experience.

Oh, I don't know about that. Almost two years ago, I was at Minneapolis Airport watching Delta's international passengers being boarded via facial recognition. This was supposed to be optional. It didn't seem very optional at all.

American, too, has been testing the new technology on some of its international flights. Easy to do, when they're not exactly full. The intention now, though, is to install these systems for all domestic flights.