Check-in & Validation, Features // // 3 Comments

Is the check-in process a thing of the past?

By

Todd Grace, strategy manager – airports, Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand is among the growing number of airlines that have recently taken steps to eradicate the check-in process. Todd Grace, Strategy Manager – Airports, Air New Zealand, and a speaker at Check-In 2010 and Check-In Asia, explained: “Passengers only need to use check-in facilities if they need to select a seat or drop a bag off.”

“If you can select your seat in advance and you don’t have any baggage to drop off, you shouldn’t be subjected to the check-in process”

– Todd Grace, Strategy Manager – Airports, Air New Zealand

According to IATA, in 2004 80% of passengers checked-in at airport counters, 15% utilised kiosks, while off-airport practices – such as web – accounted for the remaining 5%. However, by 2012, it is anticipated that just 20% of passengers will check-in at the desk, 30% will use self-service kiosks, and 50% will check-in before arriving at the airport.

What these figures fail to highlight, though, is that in the not-too-distant future, check-in could become an altogether redundant process.

Air New Zealand is among a growing number of airlines that have taken steps to simplify passenger processing by effectively eradicating the check-in process.

Air New Zealand passengers can receive their boarding pass at the booking stage

Air New Zealand passengers can receive their boarding pass at the booking stage and other airlines, such as Air France KLM and SAS Scandinavian Airlines have also taken steps to automate the check-in process.

Todd Grace, Strategy Manager – Airports, Air New Zealand, said: “Passengers only need to use check-in facilities if they need to select a seat or drop a bag off. So, we thought if you can select your seat in advance and you don’t have any baggage to drop off, you shouldn’t be subjected to the check-in process.”

This thinking has led to the airline allowing domestic passengers to skip the check-in process by selecting their seat and receiving their boarding pass at the booking stage.

This concept is far from unique to Air New Zealand. Among other airlines that have already implemented similar practices are SAS Scandinavian Airlines, which gives passengers the opportunity to check-in via SMS, and Jetstar, which offers Automatic Web-Check for domestic passengers within Australia. Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) has also introduced its ‘Skip’ concept, which allows domestic passengers to bypass check-in.

Value added check-in

Air France KLM has also introduced automated check-in on selected flights that are booked via the airline’s online portal. “You can book, buy and choose your seat online and then you automatically receive your boarding pass 30 hours before your departure time via push message or email,” explained Matthias Koch, Director Marketing R&D Ground Services, Air France KLM.

Approximately 15% of all passengers who book their flights via the airline’s website already automatically receive their boarding pass and while this service is currently available on all short and medium-haul flights, Koch added that it is to be implemented more widely and “we aim to extend it to the entire network by summer 2011”.

Coupled with the continued development of mobile technologies – particularly the introduction of mobile boarding passes – the introduction of automated boarding is increasing the possibility of the check-in process eventually becoming surplus to requirements altogether.

Matthias Koch, director marketing R&D ground services, Air France KLM

Matthias Koch, director marketing R&D ground services, Air France KLM, explained that the traditional check-in process “does not create any value for the customer” and that it is time for the term ‘check-in’ to be “redefined”.

Koch said: “In the past we used check-in for identification at the airport, showing the ticket, generating and handing over the boarding pass, tagging the luggage and dropping it into the baggage handling system. All these steps happened at the same moment and at the same location, the airport check-in counter. The traditional check-in process does not create any value for the customer and they just want to get their seat assigned and board.”

Due to the radically changing nature of the process, the time has come, he said, for “the term ‘check-in’ to be redefined”.


3 comments from our readers

  1. Ron van der Raad says:

    Hi, I do not believe that checking in is something of the past. Maybe we will name it differently, like çonfirmation or so. For the airline needs to know who’s coming to the airport. At departure time you need to know who’s coming. If people not show up, the airline can accept other passengers. You do not want to fly with empty seats. Unless the fine for the no-show is that they still have to pay (flying or not). So now check-in is actually confirming that you will fly. The seat will be reserved for you once checked-in. Ron van der Raad, ict architect KLM responsible for the web and kiosk check-in applications.

    • Melbourne says:

      When you book a ticket on a train or a bus do they know who is coming? Why does it have be any different on Aircrafts? Airlines have a system of waitlist passengers now so they do not fly empty always.
      Check-in can be done at home or on the go (Mobiles). Airlines should not have to put up with the check-in counters and pay lots of money to Airport owners…

  2. gabriela agossou says:

    The new technology is challenging our understanding of the process. While the airport and departure formalities mean a detailed control process in order to ensure safety and security, most of the services were marketed and customised as a mean of information to the passengers. Although more people are attracted by the mobile technology, we should not forget that getting the right information isn’t always put right by a mobile device. People want to know more about their travel before they get on board and there are still lots of barriers to the use of new technology (language, use of devices, reliability). I think the touch point with the airline will always be needed, under the form of check-in or something else, prior to boarding. It’s an opportunity for adding value, by setting the ‘motion’ of a comfortable journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *

*