SITA is hoping that its new contactless check-in solution will help make airline employees feel safer as they continue to work through the COVID-19 pandemic. The solution is currently being trialed at the Crew Briefing Center (CBC) at Abu Dhabi International Airport in collaboration with Etihad Airways, though the company is hoping that a successful trial will lead to a commercial offering later in the year. The trial is scheduled to conclude in February.
The trial solution is designed to streamline crew check-in procedures, and reduce lines and processing times at employee security checkpoints. It is also intended to eliminate a shared touch point, which will improve public safety outcomes during the pandemic.
SITA is leveraging mobile technology to accomplish that goal. The company has built an iPhone app that allows Etihad employees to check in with their mobile phones, essentially implementing a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy at the airport. The app uses Apple’s True Depth camera to verify people’s identities with facial recognition, and allows employees to submit their answers to requisite security and safety questions before their flight.
Etihad has set up several iPad stations at the Abu Dhabi CBC to accommodate employees who do not have an iPhone. Supervisors, meanwhile, have access to a web portal that allows them to monitor check-in activity and crew status.
“Etihad is constantly on the lookout for innovative solutions that will drive improvements in the airline’s operations and enhance the experience for guests and employees,” said Etihad Flight Operations VP Sulaiman Yaqoobi. “We believe that facial recognition technology has the potential to enhance the efficiency and security of airline operations and are happy to be partners with SITA in this trial.”
The Etihad trial was first announced back in November. The initiative reflects SITA’s broader interest in mobile screening solutions, and speaks to its efforts to overhaul airport procedures in response to COVID-19. In addition to the Etihad solution, the company is currently developing a customer-facing biometric check-in application in collaboration with NEC.
January 13, 2021 – by Eric Weiss