High-Tech Airport Terminals

With all the technology that’s just been spewing out of the world’s manufacturers, it seems the travel industry has been lagging behind. If the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has reported that all their e-ticketing, bar-coded passes and self-service kiosks have saved them around $5.5 billion and their baggage program (that has replaced manual luggage systems) an estimated $1.9 billion, why haven’t they made a bigger push towards making all airport terminals high-tech?

Of the top 50 airlines, only 27 percent expect to implement NFC (Near Field Communication) technology by 2014. NFC tech allows things like self-service bag drops, mobile check-ins, smartphone scanning at touch points, and surveillance cameras that pick up your biometric information so that there’s no room for a security threat. Airlines could be scared that investment in the technology might not be worth the trouble – international flights would require agreements between several jurisdictions in order to avoid the data privacy and security issues that mobile “solutions” would cause. They may have a point. We don’t even know if customers would benefit or even like the new technology that would be installed. Even though it’d be nice to be able to check in without waiting in outrageously long lines, the check-in process isn’t the source of my travel-related stress. Usually my qualms are with the Transportation Security Administration or the selfish mouth-breather who won’t let me move my seat back a few inches. That’s where IATA should be making changes. So maybe the aim of the technology shouldn’t be to replace employees to cut costs, but to make their jobs more efficient. Take Australia and Japan for example. One has already introduced frequent flyer cards with radio frequency identification tags to streamline luggage-tagging and the other is deploying NFC-based mobile boarding passes this year for domestic flights.