Automated check-in speeds airline queues

In an effort to provide a cost-effective solution to burgeoning queues at check-in counters, Ansett Australia will introduce check-in machines for electronic ticket holders.

Called E-check in, they will initially be installed at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane domestic terminals, and will provide electronic ticket holders the opportunity to skip the notoriously tedious lines with a 15-second check-in (minus bags).

According to Ansett, travellers who book e-tickets will be able to use E-check in using Global Rewards, Golden Wing or credit cards. The facility allows check in for up to four legs of a domestic journey as well as other services.

"A touchscreen prompts customers, allowing them to check in for up to four domestic flights, select a seat, and add Global Rewards details for points accrual," said Craig Wallace, Ansett's executive general manager of commercial planning.

It also includes special service request checks, such as meal requirements. A boarding pass is printed via the machine.

The system was developed by Air Canada, an Ansett Star Alliance partner. The software system consists of two parts - the Merlin booking system, developed by Ansett, and the E-check in software which is being modified by IBM to integrate at the back end with the Merlin booking system.

This allows real-time updates within the booking system via the E-check in facilities.

Each machine has a motorised card reader, boarding pass printer and IBM ThinkPad with 15in LCD touchscreen as its hardware components.

"E-check in is a more cost effective solution to combat long queues than putting in extra check-in counters," said an Ansett spokesperson.

However, the spokesperson added the airline does not expect an increase in electronic ticket bookings as a result of installing the machines.

"We expect only half the travellers who use electronic bookings to use the machines - 500,000 in the first 12 months," the spokesperson said.

And electronic bookings make up 75 per cent of total business customer bookings, the spokesperson said.

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