RFID Talk Blog

Qantas Airlines uses RFID to enhance the flier experience

Qantas Airlines has nearly perfected the paperless airport, and I can’t wait until other airlines wake up to RFID and start to make the traveler experience more seamless and user friendly.

As profiled in the New York Times this week, Qantas deployed RFID technology in Sydney, Australia in 2010. The technology has gone a long way toward eliminating long lines and helping passengers to board planes quicker and with fewer hassles.

Although airports in Hong Kong and Las Vegas have successfully adopted RFID for baggage handling, airports have been slow to adopt RFID. When used as a replacement for traditional bar coding systems, RFID can dramatically reduce the costs associated with lost or misplaced luggage.

Qantas, which began its RFID deployment in Sydney, is expanding its new system to its airports in New Zealand, which will be the first to incorporate passport information.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times article:

Top-level frequent fliers get an ID card that is flashed at a kiosk in the ticketing area. In seconds, the system finds the reservation for that day, assigns a seat based on personal preferences if one wasn’t pre-selected and checks the passenger in. When everything is good to go, a beacon illuminates.

To check luggage, the passenger goes to a baggage drop point, flashes the frequent-flier card in front of a reader and drops luggage on a baggage belt. The bag is weighed, and lasers measure its dimensions to make sure it complies with limits.

Top-level frequent fliers have heavy-duty RFID tags called “Q Bag Tags” for their bags that replace paper luggage tags. The technology reads the bag’s “identity” as it moves from luggage belts to carts to airport tarmacs. This ensures luggage gets loaded on the same flight as its owner. Other travelers get a paper tag for their bag with an imbedded RFID chip.

Finally, the ID card is flashed at the gate—no boarding pass needed—and agents there hand the traveler a receipt with the seat number printed on it

 Click here to read the entire Wall Street Journal article.

 

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