Air NZ unveils paperless check-in through RFID

From November 3, Auckland airport’s domestic terminal will be “the coolest airport in the world”, according to Air New Zealand general manager of domestic flights Stephen Jones.

The Auckland domestic terminal will be the first to go live with Air New Zealand’s new fully self-service check-in kiosks, which eliminate bag check queues and allow frequent passengers to use RFID-enabled cellphones and other devices to check in without paper documentation.

Speaking at a presentation today announcing the new system, Jones said it is a world-first and was launched after feedback from Air New Zealand customers which found that passengers want was less hassle at the check-in stage.

Auckland’s current 14 self-service check-in kiosks, which are five years old, are being replaced by 30 of the new kiosks, which will be functional from Monday.

Christchurch airport follows suit on November 17 and Wellington goes live with the new kiosks on December 8.

Smaller airports around the country will be upgraded after that. In all, 114 new kiosks will be installed.

The project has involved 300 Air New Zealand staff and contractors, 100 of them in IT, says Jones.

Under the new system, passengers will be able to check their bags in at the kiosks and place them directly on the conveyor belt, eliminating the time-consuming step of standing in line to wait for a staff member manually key in details of the bag.

It works like this: a passenger’s identification is embedded on an RFID chip on a device of their choice, generally their cellphone, which they scan at the check-in kiosk. The flight details are matched, and a printout is produced, which also matches the passenger’s bag details. The passenger then puts their bags on the conveyor belt and goes to either to the Koru lounge, entry to which is available via the RFID pass, or directly to the departure gate, which is also accessed using the pass.

The service, called RFID ePASS, is only available to Gold and Silver airpoints members, but another service, MPass, is available to all passengers.

The RFID kiosks are just one of a number of new Air New Zealand services announced today.

Others include personalised web portals for passengers, a new website with flight information, changes to the frequent flier scheme, and an easier process for excess baggage.

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