Passengers flying through Brisbane Airport may notice new self-serve boarding gates: now being trialled at the domestic terminal in partnership with Virgin Australia and industry heavyweight SITA.
Travellers simply scan their own paper or electronic boarding pass at the barrier – rather than presenting it for inspection by airline staff – and if the boarding pass is valid, the gate will open and you're good to go.
Installed as part of a four-week trial at Gate 38, Brisbane Airport Corporation's GM Strategic Planning and Development Roel Hellemons told Australian Business Traveller that "this Australian first is centred on improving the customer experience through passengers being in control of their own processing."
However, the gates also edge towards "a long-term view of increasing security through controlled passenger flow", and "in (the) future, biometrics could be included in these gates in addition to (the current) boarding pass scanners."
A SITA spokesperson shared that when self-boarding gates are fully-implemented at airports, they also "significantly reduce the time it takes to board passengers".
Already popular in Europe, “one airline reported boarding 90% of passengers in seven minutes. This also helps optimise airline resources and staff could then focus on passengers who require particular attention,” the spokesperson added.
Using the self-serve boarding gates is, however, entirely optional during the Brisbane trial: so if you'd prefer to interact with a human, you're welcome to use the traditional line.
Self-serve boarding: a growing trend?
While seldom seen in our part of the world, automated boarding is increasingly de rigueur in Europe, with over a dozen airports already having adopted SITA's self-boarding gates.
Europe carries the advantage of having a widely-adopted common border – known as the 'Schengen zone' – which makes travelling between participating countries akin to a domestic trip in Australia.
That in itself allows the technology to thrive in Europe by avoiding time-consuming passport and visa checks when travelling within the Schengen zone, which would often require manual intervention at other airports.
SITA's spokesperson highlights that "self-boarding gates are a pretty new phenomenon in Australia", but that 17% of airports worldwide have now adopted the technology across a total of 1,000 passenger boarding lanes.
Brisbane Airport: more tech for travellers
While self-boarding trials aren't currently planned for Brisbane's international terminal, other technology-based passenger innovations are still saving travellers time when heading abroad.
For example, BAC's introduction of ‘digital departure cards’ allows jetsetters to complete the bulk of that obligatory form on their smartphone before arriving at the airport...
... and then scan their phone at the airport – or now, their Apple Watch – to easily produce a printed, pre-completed copy of the departure card.
Brisbane was also the nation's first city to feature departure SmartGates: automated lanes where travellers can self-process through outbound passport control, much as they already could for years when returning to Australia.
While the initial trial has now been completed, BAC's Roel Hellemons affirmed that "the installation of 12 (departure) SmartGates starts in the second week of October and will be completed by 14 December 2015.
"The first six gates will be operational by mid-November and all passengers and crew to all destinations will be eligible to use the gates."
Australian Business Traveller got hands-on with the new departure SmartGates earlier this year and found it took just 55 seconds to cross the border – rendering the traditional 'Express Path' the slow lane.
That gives you more time to shop, hit the lounges or claim back the GST on recent purchases via the TRS desk: and of course, there’s a time-saving app for that too.
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