How Smart Check-In And Boarding With Digital Self-Services Can Benefit The Airline Industry?
The need for connectivity and interactive engagement is clearly more required by the traveling public than anyone else. It’s an era where the passenger journey begins with a digital search – be it a query regarding the weather conditions or a quick check on airport gate changes and departure delays, hence the need to transform the airline industry digitally.
According to the Global Passenger Survey conducted by International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2017, passengers believe that incorporation of technology will give them more personal control over their travel experience. In fact, technology can not only personalize and heighten travelers’ experience; it can amply benefit the Airline Industry as well.
Digital transformation of the airline industry can streamline various processes and make them swift and hassle-free for passengers. This transformation can impact the following areas –
The biggest area of concern and one airport process where airports believed there was the greatest opportunity to drive efficiency savings was the check-in counters. The clearance of a large number of passengers over the check-in counters was done with the help of technological innovation and by the gradual development of self-check-in services. This helped delegate check-in activities to customers, thereby giving them more control over their journey within the airport while speeding up the clearance process for the airport staff.
Over the years technology has transformed the check-in process for airlines across countries. Though many airports still host fixed check-in terminals, the need for speeding up the process had led to the adoption of following technologies for the check-in process –
Web/Mobile check-in or online check-in allows passengers to check in for their flight in advance from the comfort of their home, hotel room, or office. By doing this, travelers bypass the lengthy check-in queues at the airport while the airlines save money on paper costs and personnel.
For passengers traveling without any checked luggage, the entire process becomes even easier as they can skip the check-in counter altogether and go straight to the security checkpoint, then to their assigned gate and onto the plane. Their ID and boarding pass (printed at home or sent to their phone) offers them passage right to their seat.
While web/mobile check-ins have proved to be beneficial for both the customers and the airline industry, the use of self-service kiosks at the airport has allowed the processing of a large number of travelers to be decentralized from the airport itself.
Check-in Kiosks have enabled airlines to make better use of their airport staff resources and reduce bottlenecks while letting more departing passengers to be handled in a hassle-free way.
Still much in its nascent stage, if biometric check-in is adopted by airlines and airports on a large scale, the customers face would be the only thing required to check-in for a flight, drop off bags, pass through security checkpoints and get on a plane. The entire check-in process would be based on facial recognition biometrics.
Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and Delta Air Lines have opened the nation’s first curb-to-gate biometric terminal. Officials reported that the process saved nine minutes on the ground. The system has the ability to advance aviation security while moving travelers quicker through the screening process.
Transporting passengers’ belongings from one place to the other might sound like an easy task, however, it is one area of the airport processes that can go terribly wrong. And since travelers spend a lot of time getting worked up on the safety of their baggage, baggage management is expectedly an important investment concern for airlines and airports.
Digital transformation of airlines and airports has offered the most advanced, wide-ranging, and flexible baggage solution to provide baggage security for travelers and airline employees. Following are some of the best baggage management solutions for airports –
Self-Service Bag Drops
Using a self-service bag drop counter, passengers can print out and affix their own barcoded luggage tag before sending their bag into the system. The whole idea behind such a system is to empower the passenger and take the pain out of baggage check-in for them.
Baggage Journey Applications
Bag journey applications offer a real-time status of a bag using either a bag tag number or passenger surname. This solution can contribute to system-wide improvements, right from baggage tracking status updates to the systems of airlines and airports to smartphone and tablet apps used by operations staff. Added to this, it can easily integrate with an airline’s customer self-service and baggage handling application.
Smart tags make use of RFID technology to store information about tagged entities and send out that information by way of a tiny antenna. This information travels in the form of a signal through a wireless network, offering real-time visibility to baggage items that can be monitored by the airlines as well as the passengers themselves.
Wayfinding and Flow measurement
Airports are no longer a station where people wait to board their flights. They have, instead, become a destination where individuals want to spend their time. From exciting retail and dining options to engaging entertainment, airports have become a setting that offers everything in one place.
As such, airport official are hugely investing in technology that facilitates smooth navigation inside the airport and tracks flow measurement of passengers considering that a substantial share of the airport revenue is generated from non-aeronautical sources.
Beacons are short-range wireless devices that use Bluetooth technology to discover other Bluetooth-enabled devices, usually smartphones. When a connection with a smartphone is established, a beacon can send the map of an airport, push notifications about the boarding time after check-in, send out messages about gate changes, or any other flight details.
The beacon system can also be used to power augmented reality wayfinding tools so that mobile users can navigate the airport premises easily to reach a specific location within the terminals via on-screen arrows.
Apart from helping customers navigate through the airport and pushing out timely travel details, beacons can be used by retail establishments inside the airport to send out promotions and offers to potential travelers.
Growing airports are also adopting this technology rapidly to understand how passengers move through the facility. The system provides an outline of passenger flow right from when they arrive, to the moment they leave. This information about passenger movement patterns and how they spend time enables the airline and airport to decide how and where tenant brands such as airlines & retailers and support services such as digital displays and flight information display systems can be exhibited.
Since very few people use Bluetooth constantly, Wi-Fi-monitoring can be used for effective passenger flow tracking. Wi-Fi-based real-time locating systems or sensors, installed inside the airport, sense the Wi-Fi-supported devices and direct information about their position to the dedicated software.
Wi-Fi-tracking helps the airport management officials understand airport visitor behavior and use that awareness to make use of airport space effectively as well as boost non-aeronautical revenue. These sensors are capable of covering the entire passenger path from the parking area to the departure gates.
Benefits to the Airline Industry
Digital-driven self-services offer myriad benefits for the airline industry, some of which are enumerated below –
- Increased operational efficiency
- Reduced cost of operation
- Stress-free management of passenger volumes
- Better use of airport staff resources
- Reduced bottlenecks
- Effective passenger flow tracking
- Maximized airport retail revenue
- Enhanced travel experience for customers
- Tools to speed up pre-boarding procedures
The implementation of smart check-ins and digital-driven self-services has a major role to play in the airports of the future. As passenger volumes continue to grow, traditional approaches will fail to satisfy the needs of passengers. Digital technologies offer a strategic way to help airports leverage their existing assets and save a significant amount of their investment.