The Older Generation’s Effect on How Young People Will Fly

baby boomers

The wide world of travel is always changing, and there are plenty of factors to affect it. Recently, our Newark Airport parking company came across a Mashable article by Marisa Garcia that discusses what will affect the younger generation’s way of travel – and the answer may surprise you:

“Flying today is a need — not a pleasure.

But, according to BMW’s Designworks, grandmas — and grandpas — are helping make flying fun again.

At last month’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, BMW Designworks’Director of Strategic Partnering Garen Moreno challenged the “senior” label, saying the images it connotes of blue hair and high waistbands do not reflect today’s 65+ reality.

Nor does it convey the impact the generation is having on the products that everyone else will also be buying.

“They will make the major impact and drive the actions of the majority in about 5-10 years,” Moreno said. “What’s fascinating about this group in particular — the experienced early adopters — is that their consumer and purchasing habits are having a direct impact on multiple generations as well.”

So whatever we call the over 60s, we should start paying close attention to everything they do.

“Because of their influence and also their financial influence, they’re affecting decisions by their children and their children’s children,” Moreno said. “Which makes this group an incredibly powerful if not the most influential group that we’ve ever had in history.”

Today’s grandma isn’t sitting at home knitting you a sweater or making you chicken soup.

She’s probably in Peru climbing Machu Picchu, or getting the world’s best gazpacho recipe straight from a top chef in Andalusia, or snapping a selfie with a toucan in the rain forest.

Today’s seniors “know what they want and know how to get it at all times,” Moreno said.

Here are six future air travel trends that you’ll owe to grandma:

1. Better travel apps

Today’s active seniors embrace tech and think digital. They like to be in control, which makes it critical that airlines and airports develop “seamless” and “customized” travel technology which puts them in charge.

Think beyond ordinary mobile check-in and electronic boarding passes to apps which help you program the services you’ll enjoy onboard.

Panasonic’s new programmable in-flight movie menu, launched by Singapore Airlines, is a good example. It lets flyers set up an in-flight movie playlist with an app before they even board the plane.

Expect app-based pre-flight food menus to follow soon.

2. Less hassle and more pleasure at the airport

Security is a top priority, so there will still be lines at screening, but biometric facial recognition is already making automated border crossings easier. Expect to see more of these soon.

Check-in automation is also taking off with easy to use kiosks, and more automated baggage drops due to be installed. Some are quite flashy.

By 2018, baggage tracking will be better as airlines comply with a resolution by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to lose less luggage.

Seniors will also expect more comfort at airports, including better lounges, spas, improved dining and more soothing spaces.

3. Better airplane food

Expect in-flight meals to improve too. Active, health-conscious seniors will expect to have more control over what they eat onboard, and healthier menu options.

In-flight caterers Gategourmet have already picked up on this trend and want to use technology to make meal customization easier. They also want to turn tired trolleys into treat bars — with premium features like on-demand espresso makers.

4. Healthier cabins and better sleep onboard

New planes already have features that improve in-flight health, like noise reduction, better ambient controls and programmable lighting.

IATA partnered with SKYZEN to debut a sleep tracking app which could help flyers measure how well they sleep onboard. Imagine rating your airline seat based on whether your “Jawbone” fitness band says you napped properly.

The bright kids at TU Delft University, The Netherlands, submitted a Crystal Cabin Award proposal last year for FlightBeat seat with heart rate sensors on the cushions which link to a flight attendant tablet app and report if you’re feeling poorly — or just in a bad mood — and in need of a little TLC.

5. Better in-flight Wi-Fi — sooner

Whether Snapchatting adventures, staying in touch on Skype, updating her status on Facebook, Tweeting complaints, or just catching up with email, grandma will demand that airlines install reliable Wi-Fi.

Because she’s a high-revenue flyer, airlines will listen.

6. High-tech living rooms in the sky

Beyond Etihad’s Residence, the Crystal Cabin Winning First Apartments provide privacy and luxury, but don’t expect comfort to stop there. The older generation wants good value no matter what airline they’re on. That means everyone will have to step up their game, and designers are already thinking ahead.

BMW Design Works, B/E Aerospace and Thales have proposed a seat that’s almost psychic. It can adjust to passenger needs by tracking eye movements on the screen which operate the in-flight menu.

And BMW has just released a new proposal for a business class seat so much like home that you won’t want to deplane.

The Waterfront smart seat by partners TEAGUE, Formation Design, B/E Aerospace and Panasonic will keep the connected traveler totally in charge of her flying experience and can be programmed from the ground — and is designed around the needs of early adopter gadget-loving flyers.

You’ll want to give your grandma a big hug for all these air travel improvements — as soon as she comes back from the Himalayas.”