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I have been working in aviation for over 25 years, so naturally I have seen the progression of technology used by airports. What has been accomplished at Heathrow Terminal 2 between ASIG, Star Alliance airlines and Amadeus to offer a seamless experience to passengers at the airport’s check-in area has been nothing short of amazing.
WhenASIG took up the challenge of providing ground handling capabilities for the new Queen’s Terminal to service 18 Star Alliance airlines, we knew that the project was the first of its kind and would therefore require a complete rethink of the traditional model of passenger processing at airports. One of the challenges we faced was how people would actually use the technology. Terminal 2 was a new concept for us, so our check-in agents actually had to change the way they worked in the past -where they were bound to a desk dealing with passengers-and start working through self-service to a bag drop, to a full economy desk. We had to bring technology and people together like never before in the aviation industry.
ASIG was given 12 months to make the project a reality so we opened up to Amadeus and said: “Look, we need a product delivered and we need it delivered in a year”. It was not the usual process for Amadeus, however they always met every challenge, every step of the way, and helped guide us as a company as well, with the challenges that we had, with the effort, with the airlines, all the other parts of this project. The support and the way that Amadeus has taken this forward has been fantastic.
Terminal 2 would not have succeeded without the right technology solutions. The ability to check-in so many passengers with so many different airlines on one system had never been done before in a confined area like this. The terminal didn’t have enough check-in areas to enable the passenger flows that would actually occur there, so we had to overcome this challenge by bringing in full service desks, self-service kiosks, and self-service bag drops, and allowing passengers to use any of those points, regardless of the Star Alliance airline they were flying with. This definitely changed the way travellers were serviced and the way we used technology. And it even changed the way ASIG performed at the terminals.
As a result of our hard work together, the passenger experience has improved in many ways. Passengers can seamlessly move though the terminal at a reasonable pace with check-in and bag drops times are a little more than a minute on average per passenger. We can get them airside quickly, which is where they really want to be so they can actually enjoy the airport facilities and board their flights on time.
Amadeus’ technology is a great advantage to ASIG and it has the potential to fundamentally change the airport experience for millions of travellers. After more than year of operation, the terminal is exceeding our expectations and we’re confident that this model could be used at any airport in the world.