It goes without saying that global aviation industry will forever due to Covid-19. Nowhere is this change more apparent than in the aircraft cabin. At Ditto we are seeing these major trends beyond masks over the next 2-5 years in the aircraft cabin.
Here are a summary of our thoughts:
There will be reduced seating due to lower passenger demand and social distancing norms. While many airlines will tell you that the spacing of people between seats is to encourage social distancing, the real driver for spacing people out will definitely be due to low passenger demand to fly.
We will see a reduction of shared items like magazines, menus, and seatback screens. These items can be considered as a potential health liability since so many people touch them flight after flight. You'll start noticing marketing trends where airlines will show videos of the turnaround cleaning process.
Here is Delta Airlines promoting "Delta Clean":
We will see more cargo on passenger planes as airlines try to make profits in novel ways. However, this is complicated as airlines are more equipped to handle passengers than cargo. If demand ramps back up, airlines will need to quickly replace precious cargo space back into passenger seats. Many modern seats have a complex set of wires need to be attached during installation thus complicating and slowing the switching process. Since this is very costly in terms of time and money, airlines will be prone to switching their seats with lighter, less technologically robust version than the ones we are used to.
We're going to see a lot more digital transformation in cabin. Due to the reduction of shared items like magazines and seatback screens with the added pressure to use more light-weight seats, most of the innovation will move to mobile devices. Luckily, almost all cabin crew already use iPads or iPhones to work. Likewise, passengers have been trending towards mobile app usage in flight for a while now. On many U.S. domestic flights, the only way to watch movies is with your personal mobile app. You can easily imagine the major benefit if the cabin crew mobile devices can communicate directly to the passenger devices:
- There's a major benefit in hygiene. Instead of having the cabin crew member serve passengers by getting close to their face, they can interact with each other with social distance guidelines via mobile-app-to-mobile-app interactions. Passengers can keep their germs to themselves by interacting solely with their own mobile device.
- Furthermore, airlines can drastically reduce costs by removing seatback screens or magazines for entertainment. Passengers can also sync menus in real time and order meals directly to the cabin crew device all through digital means. This provides a very modern e-commerce like experience without adding any additional hardware to the plane.
In effect, the pressure to innovate and reduce costs will push airlines to evaluate digital transformation like never before. To make it past these trying times, we'll see leadership aggressively reevaluate antiquated workflows and replace them with much more streamlined ones. The "new normal" doesn't have to be scary for the passengers. To instill confidence in passengers through these next few years, airlines must be able to grow back to its previous levels by reducing costs and making customers feel comfortable over time.
At Ditto, we've helped airlines build incredible features in their cabin crew and passenger apps with the Ditto SDK. If you're interested in learning more about how we can get your apps to sync even without internet, get started through the Ditto Portal where you can get free access to our SDK. Remember, deep and swift innovation happens in downturns.