Airline passengers of a nervous disposition could soon benefit from a newly-conceived digital travel companion that can anticipate anxiety triggers and provide personalised coping techniques to help keep their fears at bay throughout their flight.

The Kite app is the brainchild of design company Smart Design. The concept was unveiled for the first time during a presentation at yesterday’s Passenger Experience Conference by Smart Design director of strategy Nathaniel Giraitis.

Responding to research that suggests up to a quarter of the population is nervous about flying – and mindful of the fact that while most airlines provide some kind of nervous flyer programme, they tend to be “highly priced, generalised and not personal to you” – Smart Design saw a niche for a more personalised product.

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The idea is to use artificial intelligence and a chatbot to provide a personal digital companion to passengers. The system can be connected to communications networks, to allow loved ones on the ground to send moral support throughout the journey – and could even arrange for a “cheeky gin and tonic” to be sent “when you need it most”, says Giraitis.

“[Kite] can anticipate fearful events and intervene to provide personalised coping techniques like controlled breathing and mindfulness,” says Giraitis. It can also alert cabin crew to the location and needs of nervous passengers, allowing them to provide “discreet support”.

“Rather than ringing a bell and having the crew come down, maybe they could invite you to the galley for a cup of tea,” says Giraitis.

Kite was only conceived “in the past month and a half” and its unveiling at the show marked its “world premiere”. While it has been prototyped as an app, Giraitis says it could also potentially be connected to an airline’s in-flight entertainment system.

Source: Flight Daily News