One of the thrills of traveling by air is the constant improvements they’re able to make almost every season. These are not just improvements done on air carriers. Airports also have innovations which could make any veteran traveler stand in awe. Read on below to find out what this season has in store for you and your air travel experience.
RFID Chip on Checked-in Bags
If you’ve lost your luggage at the airport before, you will definitely love the idea of this new chip. The RFID chip of radio-frequency identification chip is also installed on all checked-in bags at the McCarran Airport. This way, baggage can be tracked down much like cell phones could be located as long as they’re turned on.
Aside from this locator feature, RFID chips allow for easy scanning. It would be very hard for the crew to put a particular baggage on the wrong route with these barcodes and sensors. Double-checking also helps the crew track misplaced luggage.
In the US, McCarran is the first airport to embrace the technology. It has installed a total of 55 sensors so far. Outside the USA, though, Milan and Lisbon are already using these tags. Qantas Airlines use RFID tags globally to make sure their passengers’ baggage are routed correctly.
Self Bag Tagging Stations
While this technology is not so new in some countries outside the US, stations which allow passengers to tag their own bags are new for Americans. It is efficient? While there are still stations which assist passengers as they tag their own bags if they’re flying with Alaska Airlines, it’s an option for veteran travelers to skip the long line and just tag their own bags.
Alaska Airlines currently offers this system in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington, but they’re also planning to expand the system to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Diego, California; Monterey; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. American Airlines is fast catching up with kiosks in Texas (Austin). They’re also looking to expand to L.A., N.Y.C., and Chicago.
Improved iris scans for ID
Gatwick Airport in London has already started experimenting with iris scans for immigration problems as well, but it wasn’t until recently that the 34 AOptix InSight VM was introduced. This device works faster than older iris scanners, and they can be used on someone who is standing as far as 6 feet away from the scanner. It only takes eight to ten seconds to record iris scans for both eyes, and only about two seconds for verify each passenger’s identity.
Self-help boarding gates
While this is not entirely new and has already been applied at the Las Vegas McCarran Airport, other airlines are looking to have their personnel-manned boarding gates replaced with machines that can do the job just as efficiently. Not only will this save a lot of time—it will also lessen possible delays caused by striking airline employees and so on.
So far, McCarrain Airport only has a third terminal with fourteen gates which allow passengers to help themselves aboard. Just last year, Lufthansa installed similar stations in Munich, Frankfurt, and Dusseldorf.
Mobile phone as boarding pass
Just recently, Japan Airlines has begun using NFC scanners to utilize passengers’ cell phones as instant boarding passes. Of course, they’ve limited the use of these devices for domestic flights only where lower security is required. This is very convenient for passengers who dislike fumbling for boarding passes and extra pieces of paper just to enter the plane.
Other airlines are thinking of adapting the same technology not only to allow for faster and more convenient boarding, but also for passengers to access private lounges if they have this privilege.
This technology has now been implemented anywhere else in the world yet, but it has certainly done Heathrow Airport in London some good. The issue here was that it was so easy for an international passenger to simply swap boarding passes with domestic passenger and avoid immigration check.
Starting this September, international terminals 1 to 5 started scanning all of its passengers’ faces so this detail might be checked against all their other documents while they’re going through specific gates. The scanner is so efficient that it can take photos of people standing even 3 feet from the scanner even with a lot of movement.
Other airports are looking at this technology not only for similar security reasons, but also for other ways of verifying a passenger’s ID. For example, it can be used to see who can enter lounges wherein only first class passengers are allowed.
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