Self-Service Top Ten

Self-service is exploding, especially in North America. In an industry which is shifting from a transportation-centric to a traveler-centric model, airports and airlines have much to gain from implementing self-service tools which improve the passenger...


Which option is best will depend upon the physical layout of the airport, specific constraints, and tenant participation. Basically, there are three main models: one step, two step, and passenger/self-tagging kiosks.

The one step method involves the placement of kiosks on top of, or directly in front of, the check-in counters. In this scenario, the passenger checks in, specifies the number of bags they want to check, and the bag tags print to the agent behind the counter, who then applies the tags.

The two step method encompasses kiosk, internet, and mobile check-in. Passengers check in via the kiosk, web, or mobile phone, and specify the number of bags at that time. The customer then proceeds to a secondary bag drop location where the bag tags are printed. This method seems to be gaining in popularity because it provides a clear path to common use; for example, bag drop for multiple means of check-in, like Internet, mobile, kiosk, and supporting multiple airlines. It is important to ensure that passengers who are checking in do not have to stand in line to drop their bag. Moving the line is just moving the problem.

The last method, self-tagging, is fairly new. Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport applied for permission to run a test program for six kiosks to try self-tagging. What was learned through this pilot is that people can and like the idea of tagging their own bags, as it provides them with a greater feeling of self-control. With a significant proportion of passengers who are now more and more ready and willing to take advantage of such a complete self-service process, this may be a significant part of the solution for the near future.

5) Consider remote management

With remote management, kiosks are monitored through a variety of tools, with topographical maps and event logs. Companies like SITA provide help desk and operations staff to determine when a problem has occurred, and take appropriate actions to ensure continued hassle-free operations.

Remote management is designed to give a quick view into equipment sites, printer paper level, network components, routers, and clients. One screen can show users, by color code, that status of the devices. By outsourcing this function, the airport can focus on its core competencies.

6) Manage the business

When an airport installs kiosks, it’s important to place them for optimal usage for the facility. Every airport is different with different needs, and collecting the proper data to determine the best scenario for each airport is the best way to make that decision.

Kiosk usage reporting is available to an airport by application provider, peak versus off-peak, time of transactions, and peripheral usage. By collecting the appropriate data, an airport can make accurate, data-driven decisions. And in collecting real data and analyzing it for the facility, officials can use that to create the self-service environment the airport is working toward.

7) Appropriate hardware configurations: get the guidelines

Best practices show that the critical hardware components to consider when ordering hardware include American Disability Act (ADA) compliance (height and audio configuration); thermal receipt printers, baggage tag printers; magnetic-stripe and passport reader options; remotely manageable UPS; and highly visible signage.

Some airports are considering biometrics for their kiosks. There are several different options for kiosks, including iris scanning, hand scan, finger print, etc. A kiosk provider should be able to assess and evaluate what each airport needs specifically.

8) Integrate CUTE and CUSS

By integrating CUTE (common-use terminal equipment) and CUSS (common-use self-services), an airport can take a synergistic approach to common support staff, peripherals, management system, server/LAN (local area network) infrastructure, and billing. This will facilitate process disruption management and effective rework processes; in other words, one source for all common-use needs.

9) Remember the facilities: what is needed to succeed?

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