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Self-Check-In Kiosks, RFID and Wireless Technologies Save Costs and Enhance Travelers’ Experience at Airlines and Hotels, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Airlines that can afford the expense will be accelerating their offerings of touch-free airport check-in.  Most airlines offer mobile boarding passes in which the Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 2D standard barcodes are stored on smartphones.  Qantas offers a frequent-flyer membership card embedded with a smart chip that allows members to check-in very quickly.  These passengers swipe their ID cards at airport check-in, place luggage on a conveyer belt which scans the bag for size and weight and issues a heavy-duty luggage tag (called a Q Bag Tag), and then flash the ID one last time at the gate to board without having to show a boarding pass.
A few airlines are also offering self-boarding lanes in which automated gates read boarding passes or 2D boarding codes stored on smartphones.  One example is the 1720 Skylane, manufactured by IER, a transportation equipment company in France.
Facial recognition is also rolling out, to speed airline boarding for international flights at major airports in the U.S., Europe and Asia.  Eventually, it may be adopted on a very broad scale.  JetBlue, Delta, Norwegian Air and Air France, among others, have installed the systems at boarding gates, baggage drops and security checkpoints.  Passengers do not need boarding passes or passports but instead look directly into a camera for quick identification, which is matched against travel records electronically.  Although some passengers choose to opt out due to privacy concerns (usually resulting in a longer wait time to board), a Delta survey found that 72% of passengers prefer facial recognition to existing procedures.
Luggage tags are also becoming “smart.”  Rather than bar-coded tags that are common today, the new tags are embedded with electronic identification chips (RFID) containing information about the passenger and his or her flight.  As luggage moves along the conveyor belt, scanners supplied with information about the airport’s flight schedule read the luggage and forward it to the correct plane or divert it if a flight is delayed or cancelled.  By incorporating RFID into baggage tags, the number of misdirected or lost bags has been greatly reduced.  A test of an RFID system resulted in 99.7% accuracy.
Some systems store tag data (such as suitcase owners, origins and destinations) in centralized databases.  A slightly different system is in place at Narita Airport outside Tokyo, Japan.  Its tags are more sophisticated in that the tags themselves store data as opposed to utilizing centralized databases.  Alien Technology Corp. ( provides RFID-related services at a number of airports.
The latest in baggage technology is self-service kiosks which are already installed by a variety of airlines in airports around the world.  Elsewhere, some firms are offering luggage tags with built-in GPS units so that owners can track their luggage.  Some airlines are adopting similar technology.  Air France and KLM now use digital tags that are linked to passenger’s frequent flyer accounts.  The correct flight information is automatically uploaded to the tags, which also feature luggage tracking.

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