DIY: It's catching on Fast at Changi

There are close to 50 do-it-yourself machines at SIA and SilkAir counters in T2 (above) and T3. There are, however, customer service agents to help travellers at these kiosks. Changi Airport's Fast and Seamless Travel (Fast) initiatives are part of a
There are close to 50 do-it-yourself machines at SIA and SilkAir counters in T2 (above) and T3. There are, however, customer service agents to help travellers at these kiosks. Changi Airport's Fast and Seamless Travel (Fast) initiatives are part of a global drive led by the International Air Transport Association to make travel hassle-free.ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS HO

17 airlines offer travellers options such as self check-in, bag-tagging

Seven in 10 travellers at Changi Airport have access to self-service options as part of a push for automation amid a manpower crunch in the aviation industry.

To date, 17 airlines have adopted Changi's Fast and Seamless Travel (Fast) initiatives, which cover check-in, bag-tagging and boarding. Passengers have at least one of these three do-it-yourself options.

Self-service options were nearly non-existent at Changi Airport as recently as three years ago.

The programme will be expanded next year with new check-in and bag-tag machines for Tigerair and Scoot travellers.

Jetstar Asia has a self bag-drop service, while Changi Airport is trying out new bag-drop machines with Qantas and Qatar Airways to decide which model to install at Terminal 4, which opens in 2017.

Meanwhile, self-boarding gates are available for British Airways and Lufthansa customers.

Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan said: "We have been very encouraged by the response of passengers to the rollout of FAST@Changi, with passengers who are satisfied or very satisfied in the high 90 per cent range. Waiting times for passengers of airlines offering the options have also improved based on initial results."

The response from Singapore Airlines travellers has been very positive, said SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides.

There are close to 50 do-it-yourself machines at SIA and SilkAir counters in T2 and T3. There are plans for other initiatives to improve customers' experiences at different touch points but details are still being worked out, he said.

Another self-service option is the straight-to-gate initiative which allows travellers with just hand luggage and no visa requirement to head direct to immigration.

The service is offered by the SIA group, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific and Jetstar Asia.

Changi's self-service rollout is part of a global drive led by the International Air Transport Association to make travel hassle-free as passenger volumes increase.

Traveller Lucy Lim, a 36-year-old finance officer, said: "In Asia, we're so used to being served, there may be some initial reluctance to switch. The good thing, though, is that the machines are really easy to use and you usually don't have to stand in long queues."

Yet, even as the push for automation intensifies, Changi Airport will not do away with manned counters, Mr Tan said. And there will always be roving customer service agents on hand at the self-service kiosks.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2015, with the headline 'DIY: It's catching on Fast at Changi'. Print Edition | Subscribe