Bold and bold statement from British Airways¬†as it starts trialling a new system that it claims will revolutionise how passengers will check-in for flights with the carrier.
In fact, BA could eventually do away with vast areas such as those pictured above (the desk area in the new terminal at London’s Gatwick Airport) if its pilot scheme beginning shortly in France comes to fruition.
The idea (whether it is revolutionary and the future or not is debatable) is that the airline will automatically check-in passengers without them having to lift a finger, or click a mouse button/press a screen.
Twenty-four hours before a flight, selected passengers who opt to take part in the trial will be automatically checked in, assigned a seat and will receive a boarding pass electronically, as BA claims, “saving them the time and effort of going through traditional check-in”.
The automated check-in trial will be extended to a more passengers in early-2013, BA says.
The carrier promises that if the trial is a success the service will be made available as an option to all customers across the British Airways network by the end of that year.
But wait, wasn’t the airline check-in of the future supposed to be all about iris scanning, or facial recognition, boarding passes embedded into a passenger’s skin, etc?
Clearly not – it’s just a tweak to customer service and streamlining existing processes, not tech-related at all!
How the trial pans out in the coming months will be interesting to watch. Will the the seat selection system be efficient and, more importantly, successful with passengers? What happens when a passenger who has signed up to the automated stem has a sudden change of plans? Security issues? Handling delays with transfers?
Lots of questions, no answers as yet.