Lufthansa’s Chief Strategy Officer shares his vision of the future passenger journey

The Next Step For Airlines_Sadiq Gillani LH
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The travel industry is often at the forefront of trialling new technologies, and in the past year we have seen airlines experiment with the latest digital technologies such as Google Glass (Virgin Atlantic, Spring), smartwatches (Vueling, Iberia, airberlin), Virtual Reality (Thomas Cook, Emirates), and even drones (easyJet).

Furthermore, the acceleration of wi-fi installations at airports and onboard aircraft will (finally) create ubiquitous connectivity. Combined with the large number of passengers carrying one or more digital devices (97 percent at last count), the rapid developments in digital technologies has created a perfect storm that sees many of today’s airline and airport passenger product and service innovations taking place in the digital realm.

Digital Disruption
Reflecting the omnipresence of digital technologies in the passenger journey, a growing number of airlines are aligning themselves with the creative, entrepreneurial and technology industries by participating in events such as TED (Delta) and SXSW (American Airlines), immersing in digital culture by establishing a Digital Media Lab (Ryanair), or co-create new applications by organizing ‘hack-a-tons’ (e.g, American Airlines, Emirates, Vueling).

Lufthansa at TEDxBerlin
In Europe, Lufthansa announced this summer it intends to invest a EUR 500 million in innovations groupwide in the run up to 2020. The plans should see a new ‘Innovation Hub’ established this year in Berlin – in order to be closer to the start-up and digital technology scene – and the set up of an ‘Innovation fund’ to expedite the development of promising new ideas from both within and outside the airline group.

Lufthansa’s Chief Strategy Officer Sadiq Gillani recently delivered a talk at TEDxBerlin – titled ‘The Next Step for Airlines’ (video here) – in which he highlighted how innovation and digitization can take place at all stages (that is: Dreaming, Departing, Flying and Arriving) of the airline passenger journey.

Sadiq’s presentation highlights a large number of digital product and service innovations, most of which are feasible using technology that is available today.

Some of the topics discussed in the 15-minute presentation (and which also feature prominently on’s research agenda) include:
–          Distribution, personalization, customization, cross-selling
–          Pricing sophistication
–          Planned spontaneity: Last minute mystery destinations
–          Tablet and smartphone as the dominant digital platforms
–          The end of checkin, RFID baggage tags
–          The Social Flight, shared airport transfers
–          Connected lounge: personalized lounge experience
–          Pre-flight IFE, Second screen PED and IFE, PED-seat integration
–          Silent aircraft, cabin noise reduction, morphing seats
–          Personal preferences and food offering
–          Real-time translation
–          Anti-jetlag glasses
–          Biofuel


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