Spring break is upon us, and that means the start of the travel season. Airlines are stepping up to the plate with a multitude of changes and enhancements to what we’ve all become used to when traveling by air. Here’s a look at some of the notable trends you can expect in the coming months.
First off, and perhaps most notable for frequent fliers, is the introduction of the TSA Pre-Check program, which allows travelers enrolled in the program to access shorter and faster security lanes at major airports. The cost of the program is $85, but that gets you a five-year membership, which, to most travelers, is worth the price. To enroll in the program, applicants will need to go through fingerprinting and a background check, as well as an interview with a TSA agent. The program is primarily designed for those travelers who fly domestically in the U.S., but several international carriers are also jumping on board.
You’ll also soon see the lobbies in major airports start to shrink in size. Airlines simply don’t need as much counter space as they used to, thanks to the developments in the self-service area of air travel. Now, most travelers can get what they need from a kiosk or by simply pulling their ticket up on their smartphone. As a result, lobby space may soon be converted to more retail and restaurant establishments. Another reason for the shrinkage is the TSA and the pushing of security operations closer to airport lobbies. So, if you can easily grab a taco before your flight and get through security faster, it’s kind of a win-win.
On the planes themselves, you’ll likely see the elimination of the built-in screens on seatbacks. That’s because most airlines are moving to encourage travelers to use in-flight Wi-Fi and stream their entertainment on their own devices. The move will likely start with newly built planes, as opposed to retroactively removing screens from existing planes. Many travel experts question how successful the change will be, because asking travelers to depend on their own devices will likely result in an outcry for more onboard charging capability for the devices, and once that wiring is completed a plane has likely invested just as much as if they provided in-seat screens.
At any rate, most enhancements are being made in the spirit of making air travel easier and more enjoyable, so it’s hard to complain.