First commercial flight tests T4's start-to-end automation

Here's a look at how you can use the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) self-service system at Changi Airport T4 from the point of checking in all the way to boarding.
The new Terminal 4 offers a start-to-end automated system to reduce reliance on manpower, though it also features manual counters. Last night, airport staff were on hand to assist passengers who were not familiar with the system.
The new Terminal 4 offers a start-to-end automated system to reduce reliance on manpower, though it also features manual counters. Last night, airport staff were on hand to assist passengers who were not familiar with the system.ST PHOTO: LIM MIN ZHANG

From check-in to bag tagging, bag drop, immigration checks and aircraft boarding, Changi Airport's new Terminal 4 was put to the test last night with its first commercial flight.

The return Kuala Lumpur-Singapore AirAsia service was the first of a series of test flights in the coming weeks, as part of trials ahead of T4's official opening later this year.

Unlike Changi's three other terminals, T4 offers a start-to-end automated system to reduce reliance on manpower, though it also features manual counters.

There is also a facial recognition system which will capture the passenger's photo at different stations.

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The flight from KL landed with 180 passengers at about 9.10pm, while the return flight left at about 9.50pm carrying 166, including a reporter from The Straits Times.

Departing passengers got to enjoy free food, arcade games and neck massages as shops and eateries were not open yet.

They had been told earlier to gather at T1, where AirAsia now operates from, before being bused to T4 - about three minutes away. On the bus, they were briefed by airport staff on what to expect at the new terminal.

At the terminal, the systems and processes seemed to work fine.

Changi Airport Group spokesman Ivan Tan said that many passengers used the self-service options, and assistance was provided to those who were not familiar with the system.

"All the airport systems were tested in a real operating environment and functioned as expected."

Passengers, impressed with the modern facade of T4, also whipped out their cellphones to take selfies, and even to film the baggage self- check-in process. But some, like Dr Benny Ang, 60, had concerns about security, when it came to the self-check-in baggage machines.

"There might be some concern about bag tampering, when there is no staff around to physically help us to check in our bags," said Dr Ang, who was travelling with four family members for the long weekend.

He did add though that the self-service machines were easy to use, with clear instructions and staff on hand to assist.

Mr Soh Chin Yong, 31, who works in a bank, said he was "excited" and "privileged". "I didn't know that it was going to be there," he said.

Apart from the AirAsia group, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air, Spring Airlines and Vietnam Airlines will also operate from T4 when it opens.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'First commercial flight tests T4's start-to-end automation'. Print Edition | Subscribe