By Jodi Richards
Common use terminal equipment, or CUTE, is finding its way into more and more U.S. airports. And with as many airports as there are employing the solution, there are providers and an array of products.
ARINC’s iMUSE™ is one such product that offers airports and airlines the flexibility of common use terminal equipment. According to John Dungan, global product manager, this platform allows airline users to access and share workstations, kiosks, and printers, while also protecting and securing the integrity of each airline’s data. ARINC currently provides this service at more than 60 airports around the world.
Each airlines’s application is loaded onto the system to allow for seamless changes between users.
A compact, portable version of the system is also available. iMUSE Express allows agents at space-restricted sites to check in passengers, print boarding passes, and check baggage from almost anywhere, using an Internet connection.
Dungan says this solution grew out of requests from customers to be able to perform passenger check-in from remote locations. “iMuse Express puts all the applications into one workstation/laptop. And the things we couldn’t put on the laptop, we put on the Internet.” Airlines are then able to check in passengers, print boarding passes, and even check luggage from hotels, conventions centers, or car rental facilities — anywhere there is an Internet connection.
One example of the solution, offers Dungan, is at Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando. Passengers on Delta Air Lines, Delta Song, American Airlines, or Continental can check in up to 12 hours before their flight. TSA-certified employees of Baggage Airlines Guest Services (BAGS) handle the check-in and baggage check process using iMuse Express. This allows passengers to enjoy the rest of their day without worrying about bags or lines at the airport. A similar system is in place with Virgin Atlantic Airways at a Barbados hotel.
The concept of a shared system, explains Dungan, allows airports and airlines to use facilities more efficiently, “saving millions in terms of construction costs.” Also, for the airlines, shared devices, depending on the business model, mean that they share the costs with other airlines.
For iMuse Express, says Dungan, the most beneficial aspect is the flexibility the system allows. Since airlines can check in passengers from remote locations, congestion at the terminal is reduced.
While the iMuse solutions
work well and are cost-effective for large airports, such as London’s
Heathrow, Milan, and Munich, says Dungan, small to mid-size airports often
view the technology as beneficial, but the costs tend to deter them.
“Cost is the biggest objection for small to mid-size airports,” says Dungan. “They like the idea of shared infrastructure, but the cost was too prohibitive.”
In September, ARINC announced the availability of iMuse Broadband, which couples the server concept and the full functionality of iMuse with Internet services. This results in a common use platform designed to be more cost-effective for smaller airports. “We’re taking technology that was built for large airports and bringing it into smaller airports,” he says. “Using the same Internet service of iMuse Express, we’re putting in iMuse workstations with a server on-site to provide more robust service.
Dungan adds that as airports and airlines continue to grow, “common use is going to become even more important.”
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Part of the solution comes from adept implementation of common-use IT systems that support multiple airlines.