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  • Writer's pictureElenah Mae Salen

Efficient Airports

Updated: Jan 22



Navigating through American airports has long been associated with inefficiencies and frustrations, from lengthy border security lines to the intricacies of boarding planes and outdated air traffic control systems.


During peak travel periods such as Thanksgiving, inefficiencies add to both travel time and stress - taking the sheen off what should be an otherwise wonderful experience.

In several significant ways, AI can be applied to improve the experience. Here are some thoughts I had recently at 6am while in an hour-long line at JFK, having returned from Mexico.


  • Border Security - despite the abundant passenger data categorizing individuals as local, foreign or on special visas, long queues persist. AI can be leveraged to determine optimal staffing needs based on data analysis to expedite the screening process and minimise passenger wait times.

  • Facial Recognition - some airlines, such as Delta, have embraced facial recognition technology at gates, streamlining the boarding process. This innovation not only enhances security but also significantly accelerates passenger flow, setting a precedent for the wider adoption of biometric identification systems across the industry.

  • Boarding Procedures - the perennial debate surrounding the most efficient boarding method has found a potential resolution in the windows first, every 2nd row approach. There are challenges in the realities of implementation with factors such as the custom of prioritizing veterans, families and passengers with airline status also needing to be considered.

For AI, challenges are data points. AI can create a cueing system for optimal boarding.
  • Air Traffic Control - air traffic control systems use antiquated technology. Until it is upgraded, AI cannot yet be applied in any meaningful way.

  • Meal Customization and Waste Reduction - waste generated from disposable containers and uneaten food is a considerable concern. Customizing meals based on individual preferences and sorting waste during collection could significantly reduce environmental impact. AI algorithms could play a pivotal role in tailoring meal options and optimizing resource utilization.

  • Ground Transport Guidance - navigating airports and finding efficient ground transportation options can be challenging, especially for non-native speakers. AI-equipped mobile devices could provide personalized guidance, making it easier for travelers to navigate through airports and access public transport. Furthermore, AI can facilitate ride-sharing among passengers heading to similar destinations, promoting cost efficiency and reducing environmental impact.

Convenient, sustainable and enjoyable air travel in America holds immense potential for improvement through the integration of AI technologies. From enhancing security processes to optimizing boarding procedures and reducing meal waste, AI has the capacity to revolutionize the industry.

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