Having led some of the industry’s most significant aircraft interior developments for the likes of Etihad, Delta, and JetBlue, Anthony Harcup joined TEAGUE to help build our growing roster of airline customers. Tasked with further developing the team and enriching industry relationships, he sat down with us to explain why he’s so excited about the future of travel and passenger experience.

T: How are you enjoying Seattle so far?

AH: I love it. I’ve always wanted to live here since the first time I visited (which is going on fifteen years). Even though it’s a very cosmopolitan and progressive city, the surrounding natural beauty is stunning. Even when you are downtown you're never more than 15 mins from the sea – that has a calming effect on me. I like how infectiously up-beat and positive people here are too – everybody is ‘super-awesome’. It kind of offsets the rain. 

T: What inspired your move to TEAGUE?

AH: A combination of things really. TEAGUE has long been an aspirational brand to me. As far back as my university days I remember it being widely recognized as the cornerstone of a growing design industry – shaping the future in new and exciting ways. Over the last few years I’ve been quietly impressed by TEAGUEs airline work– they have delivered some very sophisticated interiors for major airlines. A chance event last year brought TEAGUE in to sharp focus and what I saw just blew me away. The range and depth of expertise here is staggering, and with cutting-edge digital partners like Microsoft, Amazon and Google I felt quite strongly that I wanted to be part of its story – especially given where the industry is headed.

T: How will technology like machine learning, and big data improve the passenger experience in the next 5 years?

AH: As airlines begin to utilize A.I. and machine learning to process their passengers’ data, they will be able to create a real-time, fully customized and guided travel experience. The loyalty app will become an intelligent enabling interface more akin to a virtual assistant like Alexa or Cortana, helping to smooth out the journey and provide a reassuring and cohesive thread from the curb to the cabin.

T: What about virtual/mixed reality?

AH: A truly uncompromised connected experience will allow passengers to engage with their personal data as and when its needed, and in way that does not impede their journey (whether its email, phone book, texts, apps, video, music or work). Presently touch-screen, laptop and voice-control require the user to stop and focus on a device, or to speak out-loud in public. More immersive and effortless user interfaces will provide the much-needed choice and diversity required in order to be more widely adopted. When AR and VR technology matures and becomes more discreet and commonplace, they will play a huge part in this story.

T: How do you balance the interests of passengers and airlines?

AH: Well for a start you don’t do it all on your own. Nose-to-tail aircraft customizations are an enormous investment by the airline and so the designer is part of a wider team of experts that balance and rationalize inputs from different perspectives. Designers make great champions of the passenger experience because they are able to define it and are less affected by the commercial realities of certification and manufacturing. These cross-functional teams work together for years -sometimes developing multiple interiors- so it’s also really important to be a good team player. That means gauging when something isn’t working and being pro-active and helpful in exploring alternative solutions that reach a happy compromise.

T: How do you predict the aviation industry will transform in 5 years?

AH: We are in a ‘golden-age’ of design as far as aircraft interiors are concerned. In the last ten years I have seen a huge shift towards design agencies being embraced globally as ‘must-have’ strategic partners for every major airline. It is more widely appreciated that design enables the airline to express their personality and energy into a cabin environment that you can see and touch. This is also true of interiors suppliers. As a consequence, the industry as a whole is being transformed. In 5 years’, time, the entire global fleet will have broadband connectivity, the curb-to-cabin passenger experience will be continuous and effortless, and the economy experience will be far more enjoyable. The exact route there is anyone’s guess, but I think we all know it’s coming.  

T: If you could change just one thing about the flight experience what would it be?

AH: The galley carts. There has to be another way…

Got an interesting idea or perspective on the passenger experience of the future?  

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