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7 Ways Business Travel Will Change in the Next Decade

Within the next decade, count on seeing these seven changes to business travel.

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BY Larry Alton - 08 May 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Are you tired of constantly flying to other cities for business? If so, you're part of the 20-30 million Americans who find themselves crowding the airport and constantly having luggage at the ready. You might enjoy some of the perks of travel, like touring new cities and meeting new people, but even for the most optimistic travel enthusiasts, travel can be a hassle.

Fortunately, there are some upcoming improvements and changes that could force the dynamics of business travel to evolve.

Within the next decade, count on seeing these changes to business travel:

1. Streamlined documentation.

First, we'll start to see more streamlined processes for storing and reviewing documents, such as photo IDs, passports, and travel visas. This will cut the time it takes to prepare for travel, and make it less likely that you'll forget your paperwork at home. For example, TravelVisa.com is a new service that completely overhauls the traditional process for applying for and managing travel visas.

It simplifies what is ordinarily a complex, paper-driven process, and makes it easy to apply digitally (and automatically schedule a FedEx pickup for your physical application).

2. More international flight options.

Soon, there will be much higher demand for international flights, with the number of airline travelers expected to double by 2035 (thanks mostly to passengers in Asian countries). This increased demand will force existing airlines to find more options for international routes, and will likely encourage more international airlines to come into existence. This is going to lead to a much more comfortable range of options when planning for an international trip.

You can already see major American airlines adding international flights, such as American Airlines offering Chicago to Venice routes and routes from Philadelphia to Budapest and Prague.

3. Better in-flight Wi-Fi.

There are already a number of airlines offering in-flight Wi-Fi, either for free or for a few extra dollars, but in the near future, that Wi-Fi is going to get better. The technological sophistication of Wi-Fi, combined with consumer demand, is going to force more airlines to get serious about their in-flight internet offerings.

That means you'll get more work done, more reliably, while in the air. Currently, Delta's Wi-Fi is rated as the best in the world, though American Airlines is close behind them.

4. Lower-cost airlines.

We're starting to see the emergence of low-cost airlines, thanks to increasingly efficient practices, such as Spirit Airlines and Allegiant Air. In the future, these are only going to increase in number--and possibly decrease in price as competition heats up. One new airline, Primera Air, is even offering $99 international flights.

Granted, your employer may enjoy the benefits more directly than you do here, but it could help make your travel more efficient.

5. Fast grounded options.

Consider the Hyperloop, a large tube that uses magnets to propel trains at speeds of up to 750 mph. With that speed, you could get from LA to San Francisco in less than an hour, which is even faster than you could travel via air (especially factoring in the time you spend at the airport).

Some estimates claim the first Hyperloop could be available as early as 2020, though it will only be available in a limited selection of cities.

6. Faster security.

By now, it's fairly common knowledge that the Transportation Security Agency (TSA)'s post-9/11 efforts to improve airport security are more security theater than realistically protective countermeasures. In the near future, the TSA may move toward more reliable security measures--and ones that take less time to conduct.

For example, biometric scans and facial recognition could move more travelers through the security lines faster, making the airport much more convenient and efficient.

7. Safer air travel.

You should also be comforted to know that the safety of your flights may improve substantially, as the FAA is working on rolling out the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) by the end of the next decade. Basically, this system will rely on GPS tech to provide more accurate, real-time tracking of airplanes, and ensure that planes depart and land as safely as possible.

Other companies, like Honeywell, are working on products like SmartLanding and SmartRunway to reduce runway incursions and excursions as well.

Business travel may rarely be fun, but it can be less expensive, less time consuming, safer, more convenient, and more accommodating of your work. Hopefully, these developments will stay on pace, and by the end of this decade, we'll all be having an easier time working our way through airport security and catching up on work in the air.

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