Spirit Airlines has overhauled its ticket lobbies at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, launching biometric photo-matching technology to limit face-to-face interactions and speed up the check-in process.
The ultra-low-cost carrier said that it’s the first to make biometric check-in assistance available to domestic customers and the first to attempt to combine it with automated self-bag drop capabilities that reduce time spent at bag check by 30 percent.
The cutting-edge automation, which is coming to other airports in the future, allows travelers to tag their own checked bags and send them to the plane using an automated self-bag drop unit equipped with biometric photo-matching.
The result is an average processing time of just 70 seconds per traveler.
The solution, which is awaiting TSA evaluation and approval, will eliminate the need to stop and hand over identification to an agent. Instead, customers will scan their ID on the built-in hardware at the self-bag drop units. Following a successful comparison of its scan of the photo on the ID with a facial scan captured by its onboard sensors along with matching identification information with the traveler’s reservation details, customers will place their bags on the conveyor belt to be scanned, weighed and sent straight into the airport’s checked baggage system.
“We started looking at ways to improve the check-in experience in 2019 as part of our pledge to invest in the guest,” Spirit President and CEO Ted Christie said in a statement. “We knew early on that automation and biometric photo-matching would make the check-in process smoother. Now in 2020, we’re realizing those same elements are just as valuable when it comes to helping people feel comfortable flying. Limiting touchpoints and unnecessary face-to-face interactions will change the way airports operate.”
Spirit reports that customers check approximately 1,000 bags daily at LaGuardia and O’Hare right now but anticipates that number will more than double when demand for air travel returns to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic. The carrier anticipates that 90 percent of that volume will be processed via self-bag drop.
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