France points to future of travel
Air France is launching two new trials of biometric
and RFID technology for the passenger boarding
and baggage tracking parts of its operations.
The airline has announced a ‘Hubway self-boarding trial’ to fast-track selected passengers on its Paris-Amsterdam route. In this trial, set to launch before the end of the year, passengers will be able to load a record of their fingerprint on to a chip card. Using dedicated scanners and check-in lanes, the volunteers will be able to print out their own boarding pass, clear security and board the plane via electronic gates that will check their fingerprint with the one stored on the card.
The scheme will initially be trialled for two months among 1,000 Air France staff and will later be extended to some 2,000 frequent flyers on the same route. If the trials are successful, the cards could be offered to as many as 15% of customers, and could be combined with other applications, such as access control to hotel rooms and rental cars.
In a separate move, the airline is also working with KLM to use RFID technology to track luggage on its Paris-Amsterdam and Paris-Tokyo/Narita routes. In addition to the traditional barcode technology normally found in baggage tags, the new tags will contain an RFID chip. Sorters and carousels will also be equipped with microchip reader gates. The airline says these trials could eventually lead to new customer services, such as the text messaging of real time information on baggage deliveries on arrival carrousels.