British Airways is looking to automate its service by getting passengers to swallow a pill that will communicate your needs to their crew.
British Airways is investigating getting passengers to swallow ‘digital pills’ that will tell flight staff if they are feeling comfortable.
The ‘ingestible sensors’ will be able to beam wirelessly health information from inside a customer’s body – and be used to help ensure travellers suffer minimal jet-lag.
The information could be used to indicate if a passenger is awake, asleep, hungry, nervous, hot, cold or uncomfortable.
British Airways has filed a patent “for a ‘system and method for controlling the travel environment for a passenger’.”
The idea is to adapt technology currently in use in hospitals which, for instance, monitors whether patients take their pills so that
Nurse Ratched cabin crew can stay up to speed with everyone onboard. This seems to go to great lengths to make sure customers don’t press the flight attendant call button.
There are several reasons I don’t see this coming to pass.
First, if British Airways wanted to make passengers more comfortable they:
- probably wouldn’t be planning to start charging for water in short haul economy this January
- would offer more legroom in business class than economy on intra-Europe routes.
- would offer better business class seats.
Second, are we supposed to believe that the British Airways Worldwide Fleet of flight attendants are going to monitor passengers to proactively? I can’t even get them to do this when I ask:
A member of the cabin crew could adjust climate settings when the passenger is asleep and recline their seat, or suggest an exercise routine to prevent fatigue.
Finally, considering all the cutbacks digital monitors to tell crew when we’re hungry are likely to be seat pretty insensitively. Unless you can be proven — through medical technology — to need to eat, you won’t get served. Just more cost-cutting. But this would involve a significant increase in IT spending for speculative savings.
No Pill Can Make London Heathrow Better
I rate this one as a patent filing that isn’t going anywhere. After all, if they’re looking for a little pill that will make passengers more comfortable they just need to cater ex-Jamaica.