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Fridays with Firdosh

Dear Friends & Colleagues March 05, 2021

Early last month, our famous groundhog Wiarton Willie had predicted an early spring for 2021. Because he did not see his shadow on Groundhog Day, spring-like temperatures have arrived early in our part of the world. To me, the month of March has always meant New Beginnings and I am longing to see trees come alive, fresh greenery all around, and that crisp morning air as I embark on my long walks around the neighborhood.

Talking about new beginnings, there are plenty of great innovations happening around the world that will hopefully bring about a new pattern to international travel. Make no mistake, we are going through a complete changeover where new formalities at embarkation and disembarkation are being considered, or already taking place. These days I have plenty of surfing time to find interesting reads on the Net and it’s no surprise that the technical advances that science is making in this regard is nothing short of brilliant. Some of you may already know of these developments, and if not this year, then 2022 will definitely bring us in a whole new world.

Imagine yourself going through respiratory inspections, laser operated temperature checks and coughing into microchip-inserted breathalysers that detect the coronavirus particles and identify those asymptomatic carriers who aren’t sick but can infect others. Do you recall those little yellow fever immunization record cards that we carried when travelling because it was a mandatory requirement when entering certain countries? MIT researchers have now developed a novel way for you to receive your vaccination together with a record-card. Your immunization record can now be stored by way of data in a pattern of dye invisible to the naked eye and will be embedded under your skin. This new dye comes in nanocrystals, remaining under the skin for at least five years, where it continues to emit near-infrared light that can be detected by a specially equipped smartphone at check-in points at airports and cruise terminals. From what I have read thus far, this is already in a testing stage in some parts of Europe. There are innovations coming down the pipeline that will have you easily and effectively sanitize your luggage and your taxi-ride to/from your home and hotels. There’s new UVC machinery that’ll disinfect aircrafts in a matter of just a few minutes claiming 99% efficiency in the reduction of influenza and coronavirus, and the same goes for disinfecting hotel rooms and cruise cabins.

If you are thinking that your travel in the future will be more cumbersome, you are not alone. But you can rest easy.... the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is way ahead of us all! Their publication titled ‘Report on Future of the Airline Industry 2035’ defines innovations in very many items including robotics, automation, cybersecurity, virtual reality, biometrics, augmented reality, alternative fuels, new and alternative energy sources, and new aircraft designs. Not only is Artificial Intelligence their key to personalizing, optimizing and up scaling the digital interactions between airlines and passengers; it is being used to deliver a personalized traveling experience to the passengers in order to generate maximum customer satisfaction. It’s hard enough for me to follow the new language, let alone understand the intricacy of these innovations!

While the high-tech folks of the travel and hospitality industry are busy with their fabulous innovations, what are the actual travellers busy doing? Virgin Atlantic’s little plane-shaped salt and pepper shakers with feet were introduced 15 years ago and they have been the number one item ‘disappearing’ from their meal trays in their Upper Class section (First Class). Coffee/tea mugs rank as the second most-taken item, followed by blankets, hand wash and hand cream, cutlery, safety cards and even sick bags, according to the airline’s news releases from back in 2017. The carrier has known of these items being ‘pinched’ for years. So what do they do? Well, the shakers - Wilbur and Orville - as they are lovingly named being the hottest item on board, the airline decided to just make it an open secret. During the Christmas period these shakers were stamped on the bottom with the words “pinched from Virgin Atlantic” and the airline encouraged customers to pinch them and take them home to proudly decorate their Christmas dinner tables or gift them to their dear ones... one of the most brilliant marketing initiative, at least in my opinion.

Until next time.

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