Technology drives Air NZ domestic airport changes
28 October 2008
Technology drives Air New Zealand domestic airport changes
Air New Zealand customers will be among the first in the world to access radio frequency identification-enabled technology that will enable self-scanned check in and boarding at domestic airports.
A new RFID ePass is one of a range of initiatives being launched as part of Air New Zealand’s multi-million-dollar investment to transform customers’ check in and boarding experience at domestic airports.
The airline is spending more than $16 million in leading-edge technologies to support the new experience at all 26 airports throughout the country, progressively installing 112 new high tech kiosks, 84 gate scanners, and introducing RFID and mobile-enabled boarding pass options.
Auckland is the first domestic airport to have the extreme check in makeover, to be followed by Christchurch in November and Wellington soon after.
Air New Zealand Chief Information Officer Julia Raue says she is aware of only one other airline in the world currently utilising RFID technology for check in and boarding.
The new ePass - similar in size to a small barcode sticker – works on a radio frequency providing regular travellers with what amounts to a permanent and reusable boarding pass.
Ms Raue says the new ePass will be issued to 100,000 Air New Zealand Gold Elite, Gold and Silver Airpoints and Koru members.
Customers are encouraged to attach the ePass to their mobile device and use it at either the kiosks or gate when checking in and boarding. Customers will also use the ePass to selfscan into Koru lounges.
Ms Raue says the ePass is extremely secure and holds no personal information, only a unique number sequence and tag identifier. When scanned, these details are matched to data held separately by Air New Zealand to verify the customer.
The ePass is a passive technology activated within extremely close range to the specially designed Air New Zealand scanner (2-3cm) and will not interfere with any mobile signal or application.
Air New Zealand customers will also have the option of accessing a boarding pass via email, or having it delivered to their mobile device via the airline’s innovative mPass.
To access mPass, customers download to their mobile phone a special Java application that has been designed by Air New Zealand’s own IT Innovations team. This is available at www.airnz.mobi, a site designed to provide airfare and flight info on mobile phones, Palm and other PDA devices.
The boarding pass is downloaded when customers access the application in real time, and can then be scanned at the kiosk or gate.
Ms Raue says Air New Zealand will be one of very few airlines operating a Java application system that will store, sort and present boarding passes on a customer’s mobile device.
To ensure customers are comfortable with the new technology, mobile training specialists Mobile Mentor will be providing mPass training and support at Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch airports following the launch.
Ms Raue says the new kiosks and gate scanners being installed at domestic airports have been designed to Air New Zealand’s exact specification and provide a simple and seamless way for people to self check in and board, as well as print out baggage tags.
After tagging their own bags, customers will drop them off at a special bag drop zone directly onto a baggage conveyor belt.
People with disabilities can also choose to utilise a new custom-designed area at the airport.
All kiosks also have the ability to accept credit-card payments for customers travelling with baggage exceeding their free allowance of one piece weighing up to 25kg.
The kiosk and self-scan gates will print a receipt for customers with their seat number on it.
Ms Raue says the new approach builds on the success of the existing self-check kiosks.
“People like the speed of the kiosks but their number one frustration is having to stand in a queue to drop their bag, so we’ve developed a way to remove that restriction."
Air New Zealand is also investing in a number of large screens that will display real-time information and instructions to customers at the airport, to help keep travellers informed throughout the day.
Ms Raue says Air New Zealand wanted to meet the different needs of customers by offering several different ways of checking in and obtaining their boarding pass, as well as utilising new technologies.
“We spent many months assessing options being used at different airports around the world and we are confident that we have the best solutions in place to deliver a fantastic experience to our domestic customers,” she says.
Air New Zealand is also introducing www.myairnz.com for loyalty members, a secure home page on the Air New Zealand website that members can tailor with all their Air New Zealand, Airpoints and travel information.
As well as more user-friendly design for checking Airpoints Dollars and Status Points, users can see all their current and past flight information, save favourite flight routes for easy future bookings and even check out the weather at their next destination.
“The portal has a flexible design similar to igoogle so that users can move, add or delete sections of the content to suit their needs,” says Ms Raue.
“It enables our loyalty members to individualise their interactions with Air New Zealand and make booking their regular travel with us a quick and simple experience."