From overhead bin space to toilet paper consumption, Airbus is watching you. Very closely.
Airbus has equipped one of its A350-900 aircraft with sensors throughout the cabin. These sensors track the onboard habits of passengers, collecting and analyzing data. The goal is to improve the passenger experience while saving airlines money.
With this new technology, for example, Airbus will track how many times the lavatory door is opened. After reaching a certain number, a message will be sent to onboard crew to check on soap or paper towel supplies. Overhead bin space will be tracked, with a goal to relieve “pressure points” that clog boarding and infuriate passenger. Even every instance of a seat recline will be tracked, with a goal of making more maintenance proactive rather than reactive. A seat that is reclined a certain number of times can be examined rather than waiting for it to break and losing revenue when that seat is out of service. Even in-flight food consumption will be tracked, with a goal of eliminating waste.
But’s not just sensors. Airbus plans to add cameras as well. These will be positioned outside lavatories. In the future, Airbus hopes to give seated passengers an idea of the current waiting time for a lavatory. Citing privacy concerns, Airbus says that faces will be blurred.
Speaking in Los Angeles, Ingo Wuggetzer, Airbus’ Vice President of Cabin Marketing, boasted, “It’s not a concept. It’s not a dream.” It’s also not on any commercial aircraft, at least at the moment. Airbus is testing the technology on one of its own aircraft, with hopes to offer it to airlines in the future.
Technology does have the capacity to improve the passenger experience while simultaneously reducing waste and cutting costs for airlines. But are you comfortable with a proliferation of cameras onboard aircraft and actively monitoring toilet paper consumption and seat recline?