30 September 2010
Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) and several local airlines have launched a new system that allows passengers to make online or mobile flight bookings and even print their own boarding passes, so by-passing airport check-in queues.
According to Acsa, the system went live early this month for domestic flights and is working well, while international travellers will be able to use the new 2-D barcode as soon as approval has been received from the Department of Home Affairs.
“The 2-D barcode verification system is the new standard in air travel that has been adopted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA),” Acsa executive for airport operations Bongani Maseko said in a statement this week.
No need to queue
The system is being rolled out in phases at South African airports, starting with Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International, Cape Town International, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein International Airports, and George and Kimberley Airports. King Shaka International and three other airports will be running the system by the end of the year.
Passengers will no longer have to queue at the airport to check in, as their seat will be assigned at the time of booking, while they can also print their boarding pass on any home laser or ink-jet printer.
Airlines will offer a 2-D barcode printing service at their check-in counters for passengers who are not able to print their pre-booked boarding pass.
Carry positive identification
Passengers who use the 2-D boarding pass are required to carry positive identification, which must be produced at the boarding gate.
Acsa will be running an ongoing education campaign to help passengers and the industry adjust to the new system.
“There are equally positive benefits for airlines, as the volume of people using their check-in desks will diminish, while giving them real-time monitoring of which passengers have already checked into the secure area,” Maseko said.
Acsa has been working with industry players and partners over the past two years to put the system in place, as it requires the implementation of certain technologies, standards and functionality.
2-D barcode system
IATA developed a detailed technical specification for the 2-D barcode system to ensure compliance and inter-operability among different participants.
Acsa has worked with industry bodies such as the Airlines Association of Southern Africa and the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa to ensure a smooth and collaborative implementation.
“The overall objective of the new system is to simplify the check-in process for the airlines and provide greater flexibility and convenience for air travellers,” Acsa said.
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