New Qantas Check-In System Uses Smartchips, RFID And Cyberdyne Systems’ Skynet

Okay, we’re kidding about Skynet. But Qantas has flicked the switch on its ‘Next Generation Checkin’ network, which uses microchipped smartcards to replace boarding passes and RFID to track your bags.

Sydney and Perth are the first airports to get wired with the ironically-wireless system, which has been undergoing live trials in Perth from July. Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra will come online throughout the first half of 2012.

Next-Gen Checkin hinges upon a smartchip baked into the new Qantas Frequent Flyer cards, which are being rebranded as Q Cards and dispatched to the airline’s most frequent flyers (those with Silver, Gold, Platinum or glow-in-the-dark Adamantium status).

The chip will identify each passenger and their bookings, allowing the Q Card to double as an electronic boarding pass;

Swipe the card once at any of the airport’s self-service checkin kiosks and your mobile phone gets an SMS with all relevant flight information. Swipe it a second time at the boarding gate and you’re literally good to go.

Checked luggage also goes digital with ‘Q Bag Tags’ containing an RFID chip that’s linked to your Q Card and Frequent Flyer account.

Trumpeted as a ‘world first’, the e-tags can be used to dump your luggage at a bag drop point without the need to print a luggage tag if you’ve completed online or smartphone check-in. The RFID chips can also be used to speedily locate and remove bags from an aircraft’s hold if necessary, such as if a passenger checks in but fails to board the plane.

For bonus bragging rights, everything from the streamlined check-in kiosks to the byte-packing bag tags themselves have been designed by Marc New-son (best known for creating Qantas’ SkyBed international business class seat, its A380 economy class seat and the airline’s swanky first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne).

Qantas hopes that technology will provide a high-tech cure for check-in headaches and has gone as far as promising that check-ins will take place within five seconds – once you’ve made your way to the head of the inevitable queue, of course.

Australian Business Traveller has a list of the top 5 things you need to know about Qantas Next-Generation Checkin and a Giz-inspired ‘unboxing’ of the Next-Gen Kit showing the new smartcard and bag tags.

For more on the latest in travel, visit Australian Business Traveller


Comments

    *Subject to your planes engine/s functioning as designed.

      not Qantas' fault...

      and for the record the FF class Giz "calls glow-in-the-dark Adamantium status" exists and it's called "Chairman's Lounge".

    Of course this is great, but why do we still need the check-in process, why not pushing directly, once you have booked and at the same time choosen your seat, the borading puss to your mobile device, there would be no need for an extra stop at the kiosk ...

    Yep. How about Qantas worry less about their swanky check-in and just try to keep their engines from exploding in the air.

    Just traveled with a friend who had the new, fancy card from SYD-MEL this weekend, and I have some thoughts...

    1) He was able to check-in on his mobile, and got his 2D boarding pass, but at the gate, he just flashed his new, fancy card, and was on-board. Didn't need to stop at a kiosk. After using the card, he got the same paper receipt as someone who'd use the mobile 2D boarding pass (which is what I did). (Note he didn't have checked luggage, so didn't test that out.)

    2) The technology at the gate? Um, would you believe they took his new, fancy RFID card, flipped it over, and had the barcode scanner read the 1D barcode on the back? Yup, pretty low-tech. Basically, they scanned his FF number, and let him board. Effective? Yes! New and cool? Not really. (Other airlines in Europe have been doing this for YEARS....)

    3) On a separate note, SYD check-in is a mess. It looks like it's still under construction, but it wasn't obvious where to go / what to do. And not enough people proactively going up to help lost travellers (and there were a lot!) This was on a Sunday. I'm wondering what it was like on Monday.

    Finally, I have to admit... I'm at a bit of a loss of what "check-in" means, anymore. Back before web & mobile check-in, it meant "Hi, I'm at the airport, and I'm gonna get on this plane." Now it means, "I might show up, but I might not - you won't know until I get to the gate!" Perhaps the kiosks are a quick way Qantas can get a better tally, but as I mentioned, neither of us bothered as we already did mobile check-in. Heck, I didn't even see it, to be honest - and being a tech & travel geek, I was looking!

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