Cannes Lions Special Section

Self check-in at the airport

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has unveiled a self-service check-in kiosk, dubbed Flightcheck, at its four major airports: O.R. Tambo, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

36 kiosks have already been installed and plans are underway to increase this by an additional 70, bringing the total investment to under R20 million for the 106 kiosks.

The kiosks will go a long way to alleviating pressure at the traditional check-in counters and significantly improve the passenger experience as it offers a secure and faster alternative to traditional check-in.

ACSA's Flightcheck implementation is in line with international best practice and has started benefiting KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Kenya Airways, which are already using it. The feedback received so far is that there are benefits in terms of cost, terminal space-savings, better use of resources, improved efficiency and customer service. South African Airways, South African Express and Airlink will join the two airlines this week while other airlines such as Nationwide Airlines are expected to join soon.

Given the positive user acceptance level so far, it is expected that an increasing number of passengers will choose to check themselves through Flightcheck.

While the concept of self-service check-in airport kiosks is not new, ACSA is one of the first airport companies in the world to introduce self-service kiosks that can be used by all the airlines that operate from its airports. This means that while ACSA is primarily responsible for providing the self-service kiosks and the necessary IT infrastructure, participating airlines will be running their own individual check-in applications on the Flightcheck kiosks.

Elsewhere in the world, kiosks are airline-specific, or serve only a few airlines but at ACSA airports all airlines will be able to operate their self-service check-in software on identical Flightcheck machines.

The kiosks are monitored 24/7 by on-site maintenance crews and are placed in pairs to ensure that there is always a fall-back machine in the unlikely event of one being out of order.

The kiosks look much like ATMs and are easy to use with simple touch screens display icons and text instructions for passengers. Nevertheless, during the initial stages, ACSA has made additional temporary staff available to assist passengers in using the new technology. In addition, airline helpdesk numbers have been prominently displayed.

Passengers wanting to use Flightcheck should take note of the following:

  • Each airline check-in application is unique. Find out in advance if the relevant airline offers Flightcheck facilities, and if so, whether it applies to a particular route. Also check individual airline conditions of use and whether it caters for hand luggage only.
  • At the airport, passengers can proceed directly to a kiosk provided they have been issued with an e-ticket. SAA will also accept paper tickets from the start.
  • At the kiosks, passengers will first have to identify themselves. Note that different airlines may require different means of identification, such as passports for international flights, loyalty cards or credit cards.
  • Once travellers have accepted the security conditions (prominently displayed next to the kiosks), passengers will be guided to complete the check-in procedure, including seat reservation.
  • The kiosk will deliver boarding passes and instruct passengers to proceed to the relevant boarding gate.
  • Further identity verification, requiring an ID document with photograph, will be performed by airline personnel at the boarding gate.

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