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Qantas Launches Its Next Generation Check-in System

Beginning with Perth Airport, Qantas' frequent flyers will be provided with new RFID-enabled loyalty cards that will serve as a permanent boarding passes.
By Dave Friedlos
Jul 27, 2010On Wednesday this week, Australian airline Qantas plans to roll out its Next Generation check-in system, including the introduction of radio frequency identification for use in check-in, boarding and baggage tracking.

As part of the first phase of the deployment at Perth Airport, some 100,000 Qantas platinum, gold, silver and bronze frequent flyers will be provided with new loyalty cards with built-in passive high frequency (HF) RFID inlays that the airline refers to as "intelligent Q chips." According to the airline, customers will be able to use their new loyalty cards to check in themselves and their luggage. The cards will also act as permanent boarding passes, replacing eligible patrons' existing frequent-flyer cards.

Qantas' frequent flyers will be able to check in by merely swiping their card past an RFID reader (known as a Q Card Reader).
Qantas reports that passengers will be able to check in within five seconds of swiping their card over an RFID reader (known as a Q Card Reader) and receive confirmation to their mobile phone within 15 seconds. This will replace more time-consuming methods, such as online check-in, airport kiosks and check-in desks, all of which require the manual inputting of travel information.

The Next Generation system, originally announced in November 2009, is the culmination of two years' work with such vendors as IBM, Unisys, Fujitsu, New Media Innovations, Amadeus, Telstra and Satyam, and is expected to speed up check-in and reduce airport congestion.

Delays and long queues at airports were a "point of pain" for passengers, according to a Qantas spokesperson. But replacing previous check-in methods that require the manual inputting of information with RFID is expected to improve speed, customer service and ease in passing through the airport, all of which are vital to improving travelers' overall experience.

Frequent flyers can scan their cards' Q chip at a bag check-in kiosk, where they can weigh their bags and receive printed luggage tags that they can then attach to their baggage.

If, upon arriving at the airport, Qantas' frequent flyers have not already checked in either online or on their mobile phone, they will be able to so simply by swiping their card over the RFID reader. Within five seconds, a passenger will be automatically checked in, and within 15 seconds, confirmation will be sent to that individual's mobile phone. Frequent flyers will also be able to scan their cards' Q chip at a bag check-in kiosk, where they can weigh their baggage, receive printed luggage tags they can attach to their bags, pay for excess baggage or modify booking information.

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