Bag-tracking device and mobile passport scanning get nods at aviation awards

  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014

A group of international carriers has been recognised as trailblazers in the airline industry for developing technology that allows passengers to scan their passports on their mobile phones, keep tabs on their bags with reusable luggage tags, or for raising the bar on in-flight luxury.

The Future Travel Experience Awards ceremony, which took place last week in Las Vegas, rewarded the most innovative airlines in the world in categories like best check-in and baggage initiatives, and best in-flight experience.

Air France-KLM got a nod for the launch of their baggage tracking system which uses permanent, reusable electronic tags that are affixed both inside and outside the bag. With the help of e-ink displays and GPS, GSM and Bluetooth technology, passengers can track their bags via their smartphones. The FTE Awards also points out that the innovation was developed to be used within the entire industry, and not just Air France-KLM customers.

The awards also recognised United Airlines for being the first U.S. carrier to roll out a new service that allows flyers to scan their passports on their mobile phones and check in for international flights. After initiating the app’s check-in feature, customers can scan their passport using their mobile device’s camera to capture photos of the documents. Once a third-party credentials management company has verified the passport, customers receive their boarding pass.

And Etihad, a standard bearer in in-flight luxury, took the award for best "up in the air experience" with their ‘Residence by Etihad,’ a three-room apartment that takes the notion of hotel-in-the-sky to new heights.

The private apartment aboard the A380 comes with a reclining sofa, 82-inch bed, en-suite shower, 32-inch flat screen TV and personal butler. The carrier also provides onboard child care services with their ‘Flying Nanny’ program for passengers in all classes and goes the extra mile by leaving little gifts like chocolates and cards on seats to mark special occasions.

Here’s the full list winners at the Future Travel Experience Awards Global:

Best check-in initiative: United Airlines
Best baggage initiative: Air France-KLM
Best up in the air experience: Etihad
Best airport security initiative: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
New security lanes that reduce wait times

Best passenger assistance initiative: Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic became the first in the industry to arm airport staff with Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology this year. Staff use the wearable technology to start the check-in process and provide flight status updates.

Best immigration and arrivals initiative: US Customs and Border Protection
Awarded for its mobile passport control app that allows travelers to submit their passport information and customs declaration form via smartphone upon arrival at the airport.

Best Initiative at the Gate: Japan Airlines
Japan Airlines’ staff use iBeacons and smartwatches at the Tokyo airport to help locate boarding staff and assign tasks to team members based on their exact location within the airport.

Best up in the air initiative: Emirates
The carrier introduced Audio Description soundtracks on its in-flight entertainment content making movies more accessible to visually impaired passengers.

Best Mobile Technology Initiative: American Airlines
The US carrier launched an app using iBeacon technology at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport that allows users to receive automatic notifications and directions to their gate via their smartphone or tablet.

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