An airline is bidding to become the first to offer their service almost entirely online, right down to ordering speciality coffee. Air New Zealand is planning a string of innovations to turn almost all its operations electronic so that customers could take a flight without ever needing to interact with staff.
An innovative new app that they have already launched for mobile and for Apple Watch allows what have become relatively standard options like booking flights and checking timetables. It also features ordering of barista-made coffee at their airport lounges along with notifications of the weather at your destination.
On the day of the flight, the app offers easy online check-in, a mobile boarding pass, notification of any changes and airport maps for those who find terminals a little confusing to navigate.
The airline also said it was looking at special electronic bands for young people travelling alone. The youngsters, unaccompanied and under the age of 11, would wear a silicon wrist band which would link up to a mobile device. It will make it easy for the staff of Air New Zealand to find out who they are and also allow for text messaging to reassure their parents. Anxious mums and dads would get a message after check-in, after boarding, after landing and a final ‘sigh of relief’ text when they are collected at the airport gate.
Other plans include a permanent bag tag for frequent travellers, which would be updated via Bluetooth just before every flight. A sophisticated biometric system for automatic bag drop is also being examined to allow passengers offload their bags without queueing. It will use a biometric camera to match with similar information already contained in many passportsand hopefully save passengers significant time.
Air New Zealand has been investing heavily in technology in recent years, boosting investment in innovation by 50% over the past three years. In particular, they are targeting what they call ‘pain points’ for their passengers in the hope that they can eradicate them.