The devastating impact of COVID-19 on the global air travel industry has been well documented, with the $8.1 trillion drop in tourism expenditure versus pre-COVID predictions (McKinsey & Company) just one of the headline figures. The bounce back will happen, but it will also take time to return to 2019 passenger volumes. But existing technology can help hasten the recovery, while also positioning airlines for future success.
Here we’ll highlight how mobile computer vision technology on smart devices can create contactless, friction-free journeys, from leaving home to boarding the plane. It helps keep passengers and employees safe, while increasing efficiency and crucially reducing operational costs.
Affordable, Existing Technology Can Make it Happen
COVID-19 is here for the foreseeable future, so reducing both human-to-human and human-to-hardware contact remains essential. A speedy, frictionless and contactless trip through the airport is the key to rebuilding traveler confidence.
In the current tough conditions, the appetite for disruptive, expensive overhauls of existing systems and technologies supporting passenger processing isn’t high. Mobile computer vision is an affordable, easy-to-implement solution for creating a more contactless journey now building on your existing infrastructure, while providing a platform for longer term innovation and transformation in the future.
Scandit’s computer vision software empowers mobile applications with barcode scanning, text recognition and ID scanning capabilities. These can be deployed to passengers via customer mobile apps or to airline or airport employees using apps on smart devices to complete various tasks and workflows.
Watch how the technology can help throughout the passenger journey:
Before leaving home
Adding barcode and ID scanning capabilities into your passenger app enables passengers to effortlessly check-in from home by scanning a passport or valid ID with their smartphone. Not only does this let them avoid queuing for check-in on arrival at the airport, it also ensures details are accurately captured without any mistakes.
For occasional travelers who haven’t got or don’t want to download your app, Scandit’s SDK for the Web can seamlessly add scanning capabilities to an existing mobile website. For example, the passenger receives a text on their phone the day of the trip, with a link to a mobile website with all the different steps that they’ll have to do to contactlessly check-in i.e. self bag scan, self boarding scan.
After checking in via an app, passengers can also avoid additional queues, human interaction and touching equipment by self-printing luggage tags. The airline uses the front camera of a stationary tablet with computer vision to rapidly scan the boarding pass held up by the passenger, triggering the luggage labels to be printed on the spot at the kiosk. It’s a fast and frictionless journey through arrivals.
In the airport
Access to airports, gates, lounges is more restricted than before, as airlines seek to control the passenger flow and dwell times in the airport to minimize time and risk. By scanning IDs or boarding passes on entry to lounges etc, airports and airlines can make sure only the right passengers can access them, and if needed limit access only in a defined time window to avoid overcrowding. This is important to be able to track passengers progress too and optimize future journeys.
When boarding the plane
When it comes to boarding at the gates, keeping contact between employees and passengers to a minimum and enforcing social distancing is key. With Scandit powered smart devices, airline staff can scan paper both boarding passes and Aztec digital codes safely, speedily and simply.
Scan through plexiglass at the boarding gate: Airline staff performs boarding by scanning passenger boarding passes through plexiglass shields in order to avoid contact. With Scandit, the scanning speed and accuracy is unaffected by the plexiglass, even scanning in glare or low light.
Boarding and passenger management at a distance: An agent at the gate can scan a boarding pass at a safe distance of 2m or 6 feet with a Scandit-powered app. Using smart devices also allows the airline employees to be more mobile, efficiently perform boarding with less staff and without asking passengers to assemble. Similarly, staff can do other tasks like changing seats or handling upgrades all from a distance with the same device.
A Reassuringly Contactless Customer Experience
Passengers already use mobiles to check flight information and for digital boarding passes. Now scanning-enabled smartphones can play an even bigger role, without substantial investment or disruption for operators.
The contactless experience is essential for reassuring travellers today. With Scandit, fast accurate scanning is accessible on almost any smartphone model a customer might have, supporting over 20,000 smart device types.
And when passenger volumes rebound, scanning-enabled mobile or web apps on passengers’ smartphones provide a future-proof solution for further automating and streamlining airport journeys.
Safe, Efficient, Cost Effective Operations
Anything that helps disperse passengers and make staff interactions contactless is a must today.
Deploying scanning-enabled smartphones to staff is a rapid and accessible solution. Efficiently complete tasks such as boarding and passenger management with minimal contact, at distance and more safety.
With flexible smartphones, employees can manage multiple ground handling and passenger operations tasks with a single device. And by deploying smartphones, you can eliminate spending on inflexible and shared hardware, such as fixed podiums or computers at the gate, which is also safer for staff.
One Scandit customer, SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) deployed smart devices with scanning-enabled employee apps to enhance efficiency and the passenger experience. They wanted to upgrade critical ground handling operations. They adopted a Scandit-powered mobile app due to the savings versus dedicated scanners, superior scanning performance and ease of integration into their mobile ecosystem.
“Our operating staff deliver superior customer service by scanning boarding passes, passports, luggage, packages, and coupons with Scandit-powered mobile devices.” Sören Fredriksson, IT Project Manager, SAS.