Lately, it seems everyone has been thinking about what travel will be like in the future. The lovable blokes behind the book (and phenomenon) Freakonomics posed the question about how things would look ten years from now to a series of industry bigwigs on their New York Times blog, and got some interesting responses:
- Brookings fellow Clifford Winston proposed charging airlines fees for every flight that is delayed, and suggested a "satellite-based air traffic control system that, among other things, would give pilots the freedom to choose the most efficient routing."
- Gary Topping, CEO of Topping Travel, foresaw the end of First Class, a renewed focus on happy airline employees (phew!), and the fabulous suggestion that "baggage will be electronically tagged, never to be lost again."
- Josh Marks, founder of MAXjet, spoke of increasing specialization for airlines based on traveler's spending preferences (evoking a 'there's room in the market for both Wal-Mart and Saks' theory); and warned that GPS and "data communications between aircraft and controllers must replace the antiquated radar-and-radio infrastructure that we have now outgrown."
- Ever-tightening U.S. travel restrictions will staunch the flow of tourists here, and they'll "choose Mexico City over Miami, Whistler over Aspen and London over New York."
- Airlines continue to suffer, and industry downsizing will result in the rise of alternative means of travel: like a growing number of high-speed trains and (our personal favorite), "smart cars, which are empowered by computers to communicate with roads, highways and other cars. That means you can settle into your vehicle in New York one evening, watch a movie, go to sleep and wake up in Montreal."
- Traveling "green" will depend less on eco-friendly destinations, but on the planning side instead. "More tourists take single-destination trips, rather than whirlwind tours. They'll look for house-swaps, home-stays, volunteer projects and chances to study a new skill, like cooking or a foreign language."
Check out the full article for Eaves' predictions about underwater travel, last-chance destinations, and tours of outer space. And read Keith Bellows' interview with futurist Andrew Zolli from the July/August 2007 issue about what he believes the future holds for travel (hint: it involves your grandma doing pushups). Let us know your own predictions in the comments below.