DIY luggage tagging to cut queues at Changi

(Clockwise from top left) The Jetstar passenger just has to print out the luggage tag at the kiosk, attach the tag to the bag and drop it off at the designated area.
(Clockwise from top left) The Jetstar passenger just has to print out the luggage tag at the kiosk, attach the tag to the bag and drop it off at the designated area.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
(Clockwise from top left) The Jetstar passenger just has to print out the luggage tag at the kiosk, attach the tag to the bag and drop it off at the designated area.
(Clockwise from top left) The Jetstar passenger just has to print out the luggage tag at the kiosk, attach the tag to the bag and drop it off at the designated area.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE
(Clockwise from top left) The Jetstar passenger just has to print out the luggage tag at the kiosk, attach the tag to the bag and drop it off at the designated area.
(Clockwise from top left) The Jetstar passenger just has to print out the luggage tag at the kiosk, attach the tag to the bag and drop it off at the designated area.ST PHOTOS: DESMOND WEE

Self-service kiosk trial is part of push for automation in labour-tight market

Queues could soon become shorter at Changi Airport, which is trying out four new self-service check-in kiosks that also allow travellers to tag their own bags.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) has partnered Jetstar Asia in launching the kiosks at Terminal 1.

After a passenger has had his passport verified, the Swiss-made machine prompts him to indicate the number of check-in bags. It then prints the necessary tags.

All the passenger has to do is tag the bags and drop them off at a designated area, before heading to immigration.

The three-month trial kicked off about two weeks ago.

Although self-service kiosks have been around at Changi for several years, the existing ones, used by several carriers including United Airlines and Air France/KLM, do not print bag tags. Thus, travellers with luggage still need to queue at the check-in counters.

Other carriers including Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Tigerair have systems in place to allow customers with no bags to bypass counters and go straight to immigration.

Changi's latest do-it-yourself option is part of the airport's push for automation in a labour-tight market.

More than 1,000 travellers have already used the new kiosks at T1, said CAG's vice-president for terminal and ground operations, Mr Albert Lim.

He is confident that use of the kiosks will increase as more of them are installed and awareness grows.

"There is a learning curve, and passenger education is an important part of the trial we are now doing," he said.

Apart from deploying customer service agents to assist travellers, Changi is also using posters and videos to explain the steps.

Travellers gave the new kiosks the thumbs up yesterday.

"It's fantastic," said senior analyst Susanto Angus, 50, who works at an oil and gas firm. "The system should definitely be expanded."

Kuala Lumpur-based architect Baldip Singh, 48, added: "You see self-service kiosks at many airports, but they don't usually print bag tags, so you still have to stop at a counter to check in the luggage. This new system is excellent and easy to use."

Jetstar Asia's chief executive, Mr Barathan Pasupathi, said the kiosks will help streamline operations and increase productivity at check-in counters - ultimately allowing the low-cost carrier to pass on savings to customers through low fares.

Changi's Terminal 4, due to open in 2017, is being designed to rely more heavily on technology and automation for passenger processes.

Changi also launched an automated aircraft boarding trial at Terminal 2 last year, in partnership with Germany's Lufthansa.

Passengers swipe their boarding passes to open the gate, and from there, they go straight into the aircraft.

The trial, which started with three automated gates, has gone well and is being extended to include T1.

karam@sph.com.sg