As passengers increasingly look for more control over their journeys, it’s towards technology that they turn. Little wonder we’re seeing the relentless rise of the kiosk.
SITA AirportConnect Kiosks customized for Air France-KLM
The kiosk remains one of the interfaces best placed to meet passengers’ demands, a fact that’s ensured its continued rise in adoption and usage in airports across the globe.
Such is the success of kiosks, that at the start of this year SITA celebrated the rollout of its 10,000th kiosk globally, in use by airline group Air France-KLM.
Self-service check-in kiosks are almost universally available with nine out of 10 airports having them in place this year, which is up 75% from the previous year, says the Airport IT Trends Survey.
But what started out more than a decade ago as a quick and efficient platform to check-in for a flight, has evolved to include numerous functions across the airport journey that can now be completed from the humble kiosk.
The sleek new kiosks rolled out by Air France-KLM across their main hubs and key outstations this year are a prime example of the power of the kiosks.
They’re packed with the latest features, allowing passengers to quickly and easily check in for flights, print bag tags or purchase additional services from the airline.
They also include several new features, such as ‘chip and pin’ and contactless payment devices, which allow passengers to pay for flights, upgrades, meals or other ancillary services.
According to Nicolas Nelson, VP Distributed Services IS Group, Air France-KLM Group: “The New Generation Kiosk project is a strategic project for Air France-KLM, aimed at significantly improving the customer experience in 50 airports worldwide.
“With these 765 state-of-the-art kiosks from SITA, we are providing a solution that will improve the self-service experience for check-in, self-tagging and baggage recovery.”
“The initial feedback from our customers and station managers is very positive with reports of increased availability, better user interface and improved self-use ratios.
This was a complex project that deserved full attention from SITA and Air France-KLM experts and management. At the end of the day it has proved to be a real success.”
It’s been shown time and again that packing all this functionality in a kiosk can speed up processes, increase passenger satisfaction and reduce the space needed to complete traditional travel steps.
Meanwhile, SITA’s VP Airport Portfolio, Andrew O’Connor, says: “Kiosks have proved to be an extremely versatile interface for a wide range of airport functions and services – and increasingly available from a single kiosk – which allow passengers to take control of their journeys.
“It’s been shown time and again that packing all this functionality in a kiosk can speed up processes, increase passenger satisfaction and reduce the space needed to complete traditional travel steps.”
A key growth area for kiosks is self-service bag drop. Today 42% of airports have kiosks that can print bag tags to help passengers tag their own luggage before leaving them at drop-off points, which can be much faster for the passenger than using the airport counter.
“We recognize that kiosks in the area of self-service baggage drop are a natural extension to the online or kiosk check-in and expect a sharp growth in this segment of the self-service market over the next few years,” says O’Connor.
At the end of 2015, SITA acquired Type 22, a market innovator that’s driving the development of bag drop services, aimed at strengthening SITA’s end-to-end baggage portfolio, which includes both assisted and self-bag drop solutions.
The new bag drop portfolio, including Scan&Fly and Drop&Fly, complement SITA’s suite of intelligent airport IT solutions designed to improve the entire passenger process from curb to arrival hall, resulting in reduced costs and improved customer service.
A critical development is at immigration, with kiosks increasingly used to bust queues and improve the traveler experience.
Secure self-service immigration kiosks speed up border crossings for travelers presenting biometric travel documents. This frees up skilled resources to focus on the higher-risk minority.
SITA's own portfolio offers automated border control kiosks and gates (ABCKiosks and ABCGates), which are in use in countries across all regions of the world.
In recent years, the US in particular has been a major growth market where self-service border control kiosks have become a regular feature at airports.
The US-specific program to introduce passport control kiosks across the country is called Automated Passport Control (APC). Many of the country’s airports have embraced SITA’s self-service border solutions, as part of the program.
That includes the installation of more than 300 APC kiosks at over 10 airports: JFK New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Philadelphia and San Diego – they’re all among a growing list of airports which all now have biometric immigration kiosks provided by SITA.
Border control kiosks have already shown that processing times can be dramatically speeded up, with the average transaction time of just 90 seconds.
Some 25% of the world’s passengers feel negative emotions at the border control stage of the journey, according to SITA’s IT Trends surveys – a frustration that’s likely to worsen as international travel continues to grow.
But SITA’s Sean Farrell, Portfolio Director for Government, says kiosks will make a big impact. “Border control kiosks have already shown that processing times can be dramatically speeded up, with the average transaction time of just 90 seconds,” he says.
SITA’s self-service immigration kiosks use a simple process to speed up processing: the answering of a set of regulatory questions at the touch-screen, passport reading and validation, and identity verification.
At the end of the self-service process, the kiosk issues a receipt to be presented to a border agency officer for final clearance through a fast-track, dedicated lane.
“SITA continues to work with governments around the world to ensure that our technology meets the requirements of each jurisdiction,” says Farrell.
“To cite a US example again, last year the US Customs and Border Protection updated the requirements for APC kiosks at US borders to include facial recognition capability and, with the support of SITA, the first kiosks to meet this requirement were installed at Orlando Airport late last year.”
Looking beyond the travel steps, there’s a clear opportunity for entertainment on the move. Mobile, alongside the kiosk, is fast emerging as one of the favored platforms in the airport.
SITA’s IT trends surveys show that already 83% of travelers carry at least one mobile device with them while 67% of passengers will in future use their devices to access entertainment.
SITA is exploring ways of delivering content to passengers preparing for a long-haul flight, and short on entertainment, by creating DigitalMedia Kiosks.
These would make it possible for travelers to purchase or rent films, TV programs or even magazines or newspapers on their personal devices just before they take off.
SITA’s DigitalMedia Kiosks are already in trials with London Heathrow and Swiss International Airlines. See ‘Get your media on demand’ and ‘I’ll have my media to go please’.
“What started out as a solution for check-in has morphed into a more robust interface where passengers can interact with the airline and airport at virtually every step of their journey.
“They have helped make airports more efficient and improved the experience for passengers. Together with mobile, kiosks are fast relegating more traditional, face-to-face services and helping the industry better serve its passengers,” says O’Connor.
Looking further in to the future, new technologies continue to provide enhanced functionality within kiosks.
The use of single biometric identification, for example, which can be integrated with airline and immigration databases, can be used in the kiosk to potentially combine several travel steps into a single interaction. See also: ‘Let’s get smart about identity’.
“Having worked with airlines, airports and governments around the globe, SITA is in a unique position to identify the key pain points or areas of opportunity and bring all the parties together to solve them.
“This has allowed us to develop kiosk products, such as Smart Path, to ensure a seamless and quick solution,” concludes O’Connor.