Flying visit? Airports use tech to take the hassle out of business travel

Survey reveals self-service is the way of the future for airports...
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Survey reveals self-service is the way of the future for airports...

Getting on a plane is about to get a lot easier according to a new report, which found that airports will increasingly automate passenger and security checks.

Just over half of the airports questioned for the Sita Airport IT Trends Survey said they will increase the number of passenger check-in kiosks, with a quarter planning to add new features to kiosks such as the ability to print out bag tags and scan travel documents.

IATA checkpoint tunnel

In a rush? Walk-through body scanners could speed up pre-flight checks in futurePhoto: IATA

Long queues for boarding and security checks could also be alleviated, as the survey found that by 2014 just over one-third of airports will have introduced electronic gates for self-boarding and 42 per cent will have e-gates that carry out security checks, such as confirming that a passenger matches their passport.

Airports are also hoping to reduce queues for checking in luggage, with more than half, 53 per cent, planning to introduce bag-drop desks that serve multiple airlines by 2014.

The way that passengers are notified about their flights is also changing, with just over 80 per cent of airports telling Sita they will offer flight information and other updates via mobile apps and text messages by 2014.

The majority of airports will also use social networks to communicate with passengers by 2014, with 72 per cent planning to use or already using social media to provide flight information updates.

Ilya Gutlin, Sita VP of airport solutions, said of the self-service technologies at airports: "These all contribute to Sita's vision for the intelligent airport which aims to shorten queues and take the hassle out of the passenger experience."

The Sita Airport IT Trends Survey polled airports that handle about 43 per cent of total passenger traffic, including more than two-thirds of the top 100 airports by revenue.

The recently announced £73m extension to Gatwick's North Terminal will include self-service kiosks where passengers can check in, choose seats and print their own boarding cards.

At the Sita Air Transport IT Summit in the summer, silicon.com got a glimpse of some of the self-service technology that is destined to make flying more convenient.

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