Sunday musings: Commute of the future, air amenities of the future, airlines should look to Google


This Sunday we give you three articles to get creative and thoughtful juices flowing. First, a look at what may be the commuting phenomenon of the future. Next, we take a look at airline amenities and the companies that look into the future to develop the bells and whistles that luxury passengers will demand. Finally, one of the leading travel technology blogs asks why aren’t airlines taking the technology lead these days.

The commute of the future

If cities cannot build rail transit systems because of the expense, why not think of making buses more amenable to commuters by making them more like trains. Buses with WiFi and dedicated lanes are some of the ideas. They can move passengers just like rail without the infrastructure costs.

To woo workday commuters, Cleveland and select cities across the U.S. are trying to replace the image of the gritty, pokey, crowded bus by sending sleeker, more spacious and trainlike buses onto certain commuter routes. They are packing these buses with amenities cribbed from the handbook of other cities’ commuter rail and light-rail trains.

In part, they hope to attract passengers who don’t have to ride the bus to work — people who can afford to own a car and pay for gas and parking, but who will willingly hop a bus. Getting more of these “choice riders,” as the public transportation industry calls them, can help fund local transportation and reduce traffic.

What’s the latest in airliner amenities?

Some companies specialize in developing cabin amenities of the future. They are selling the fancy stuff, which will be filling first class cabins next year and further into the future, today.

Ever contemplate the many ways in which an airplane video monitor or tray table can swing, fold or pop out, up or down from a seat?

No? Well the folks at Bucher Aerospace, in Everett, Washington, have.

Turns out the specialized arms that attach monitors to seats are not made by the monitor or seat companies. That’s where Bucher comes in.

Airlines need to take off, not face lengthy delays with innovation

Airlines have long been the province of the top technology in the world. They once were leaders in innovation. But recently, airlines have been more like Luddites than innovators. This article looks at ways that airlines can move back into leadership in the technology world.

…carriers have been criticized for their notoriously conservative branding and others remain fixated on antiquated ancillary revenue offerings like baggage and beverage fees, or refuse to invest in new technology offerings.

Innovation inertia is particularly unsettling in an age of economic uncertainty, ever rising fuel costs (with cruise oil trading at $92.07, up 10.76 percent in the last year), and cut-throat low cost carrier competition (that in some cases are being innovative), bucking the inertia trend.

So how can airlines turn inertia into action?

The surprising answer — look to Google.