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Does the passenger really want more self-service? We think so!

David Larvin

Head of Airline IT, Departure Control, Amadeus IT Group

A LinkedIn debate initiated some three months ago has sparked an interesting discussion, with over 30 contributors to date. Does the passenger really want more self-service? The Amadeus stance would be that this can only be a good thing for passengers, airlines and airports.

We are almost there - but baggage check-in still holds us back

The passenger airport experience is often thwarted by queues and delays, so any innovation to speed up the obligatory check-in process must surely be a good thing. So, with self-service check-in kiosks already a standard feature in most airports, why does baggage drop-off still require that we queue at a manned counter? Clearly, self-service is only part-way there, or as one thread puts it, 'checking in baggage is the number one deterrent to widespread adoption of self-service at the airport'.

Amadeus Altéa Self Service Bag Drop - designed with users in mind

However, as opinion from the debate would suggest, any self-service technology must be engineered according to stakeholder requirements and expectations, which at the very least includes airlines, airports and their passengers. So, when we recently extended our Altéa Self-Service Check-in portfolio to include Altéa Self-Service Bag Drop, usability was a key consideration:

  • The software had to work with various self-service bag drop hardware (IER, SITA, ICM today, and others in the future) in order to function across airports and with Altéa customers' existing SSCI solutions
  • The 'thin' client architecture would ensure easy deployment and reduced maintenance, whilst being consistent with each airline's baggage policy, 'look and feel'
  • When dropping a bag takes an average of just 36 seconds, this gives passengers both the confidence and the motivation to use self-service bag drop

We are currently trialling this technology at London Heathrow with Aegean Airlines, South African Airways and Tap Portugal.

According to Panos Anastasopoulos, Aegean Heathrow Station Manager, Aegean Air:

Hard and effective work from Amadeus led to a user-friendly innovative solution. Amadeus managed to develop a fantastic product within a few months [...], listening to our needs and applying them whenever possible.

Self-service bag drop - helping 'fast travel' become a reality

Self-service bag drop is one of IATA's recommended initiatives within the Fast Travel Programme, and is certain to become more common place in the future. Amadeus is fully supportive of the programme and will be closely monitoring our pilot which runs at LHR 1 until the end of January. It’s clear that to achieve 'fast travel', we need to get passengers from A to B to C quickly and efficiently, starting by removing the bottlenecks at check-in and baggage drop. Self-service travel is most definitely faster and more efficient, and as more passengers begin to see the benefits, adoption is bound to soar.

Please post your comment below, email us or contact your Account Manager for more information.


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