The process from booking to flying has been increasingly streamlined as airlines cut costs and invest in infrastructure. Ticketing, baggage drop-off, seat selection and a variety of other services have all been simplified, often to the point where there are only a few staff members handling a massive check-in line.
Where airline staff is still critical is at the boarding gate, where upgrades, ticket changes, passenger loading and a variety of other issues are still handled. To handle that dynamic environment, anywhere between one and a handful of airline agents is necessary for operation.
If the Swiss group Kaba has its way though, those staff members may start to disappear. The company has designed an automated check-in device that scans your boarding pass and allows passage from the terminal to the aircraft – all without interfacing with an agent. It’s a tool that could speed up the boarding process as well as cut down on costly staff necessary at the gate.
Already in limited operation in Europe, Kaba’s first automatic gate is now operating at the MaCarran airport in Las Vegas, and if the trial is successful then distribution will expand.
And what happens when you bring a mobile boarding pass to the gate or the system doesn’t automatically process your ticket? At this point, there will still be staff on hand to manually process your boarding. But if this pilot program is successful, you can expect a lot fewer staff to help in the future.