SAVANNAH, Ga. – The year is 2027, and you’re planning a trip to Tokyo. No need to pack; everything you need will be delivered straight to your door. Waiting in line at security is a thing of the past thanks to biometric scanning and once on the plane, you have the world to explore at your fingertips, literally.
That might seem futuristic, but if you ask the students at Savannah College of Art and Design, as Delta did in April, they’d tell you these innovations aren’t as far off as you might think.
It all began with a single question: What will air travel look like in the future? Leaders at The Hangar, Delta’s Global Innovation Center, thought who better to ask than some of the most creative minds around – SCAD students. The two-month project wrapped up recently when students presented their ideas to a panel of Delta employees.
The partnership between Delta and SCAD showcases The Hangar’s mission to team up with academic institutions to get fresh ideas from new places as the airline continues to develop innovative customer solutions. The team works with student groups to develop and test those ideas to figure out quickly what works and what doesn’t.
During the final presentation, students shared their ideas for futuristic improvements across the travel journey, from the planning and purchasing stages to waiting at the gate and sitting on board. Here are a few ideas that spurred the Delta team’s interest:
- Walkway: A security checkpoint that uses biometric scanning and X-ray technology to allow customers to walk through the checkpoint without stopping or unpacking belongings.
- Mood Booth: A reconfigurable furniture system to provide an improved gate experience. The furniture, made up of cubes, could be reconfigured via motion sensor technology to accommodate customers’ seating preference (napping, reading, working, etc.).
- In-Flight Tourism: A program that lets customers explore the world while flying to their destination through a virtual reality-based in-flight entertainment system. Customers would write and read suggestions or comments about travel locations from others in their social media network.
Team lead Nicole Jones said Delta plans review the top ideas, make alterations as needed and test them out. The effort, she explained, is all about coming up with new ways to make customers’ experience with Delta better.
“Delta is constantly innovating and looking for ways to improve the customer experience, so this course let us tap into some of the minds of the world’s greatest designers,” Jones said. “We’re really excited to see what practical uses their ideas have and bring them to life.”
The students didn’t just pull these ideas out of thin air, though. They spent months researching, touring airport facilities and talking with Delta employees.
“I think we all have a new appreciation and understanding for the industry. I never realized what all goes on behind the scenes at an airline,” said Michelle Compton, a graphic design student who worked on the assignment.
SCAD professor and class advisor Bethany Armstrong noted that Delta won’t be the only one to reap benefits from the partnership. Armstrong said the college brings in business leaders as often as possible, whether for a full project like Delta’s or just to look through students’ portfolios.
“These partnerships are some the most important things we have to offer students,” Armstrong said. “Building these real world experiences is the future of education.”
Check out SCAD's post about the project here.