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Air New Zealand Readies for RFID-enabled Boarding Passes

At 26 airports throughout the country, the airline's frequent flyers will use the permanent, reusable boarding passes to check themselves in, enter passenger lounges or board a flight.
By Dave Friedlos
Nov 28, 2008Air New Zealand passengers will soon be able to breeze through check-in and boarding at all of the domestic airports it serves, following the introduction of RFID-enabled technology.

The international carrier is spending more than NZ$30 million (US$16.5 million) to install 112 new high-tech kiosks and 84 gate scanners at 26 airports, and will become one of the first airlines in the world to offer RFID-enabled self-scanned check-in and boarding services. The company's aim is to reduce bag-check queues and customer waiting times, and to make boarding as simple as possible without the need for paper documents.

At RFID-enabled kiosks, Air Zealand passengers can use their ePass to check in themselves and their luggage and receive a printed baggage tag.

This month, Air New Zealand replaced 14 self-service check-in kiosks at Auckland Airport with 30 new kiosks containing RFID interrogators. New kiosks were also installed and began operating last week at Christchurch Airport, with Wellington International Airport set to follow in December. Smaller airports around the country are slated to be upgraded by January 2009.

The airline's chief information officer, Julia Raue, says the RFID-enabled ePass has been issued to 100,000 Air New Zealand Gold Elite, Gold and Silver Airpoints customers, as well as members of the airline's Koru Club, to provide these regular travelers with a permanent and reusable boarding pass.

"The new RFID ePass is one of a range of initiatives launched as part of a multimillion-dollar investment to transform the check-in and boarding experience," Raue says. "We wanted to utilize new technology to meet the needs of customers, and offer different ways of checking in and obtaining a boarding pass."

The ePass is similar in size to a small bar-code sticker. Passengers have been encouraged to attach tags to their mobile phones, then to use their mobile device at the kiosks or departure gates upon checking in and boarding, or to enter passenger lounges.

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