Since the introduction of International Air Transport Authority (IATA)’s Fast Travel Program in 2009, the airline industry has saved over US$2.1 billion (~GBP1.59 billion, EUR1.78 billion) by implementing various self-service initiatives. While over 68% of IATA’s membership airlines completed components of the program, only 4.4% of them have earned the platinum status.
IATA Fast Travel Program
The IATA Fast Travel Program was initiated to facilitate of goal of building efficiency and speed on passengers travel through the airport using six key initiatives including: 1. Check-in (CKI), 2. Bags-Ready-to-Go (BGR), 3. Flight Rebooking (FRB), 4.Document Check (DOC), 5. Self-Boarding (SBG) and 6. Baggage Recovery (BRY).
The key benefit of implementing these initiatives is the cost savings realized by airlines and airports by reducing the time it takes to process passengers and reducing costs of using full time employees to handle routine tasks. Any space reclaimed from a smaller footprint (e.g. reduce number of check in counters) can be turned into newer travel experiences and non-aeronautical revenue generator. The IATA Board’s goal is to achieve a 75% market availability with this program by the end of 2017 (current figure is at 68.8%). This is up from 35% back in 2015.
There are three status tiers to the Fast Travel Program: Green, Gold and Platinum.
To achieve Green Status, airlines must implement solutions for following three areas: 1. Check-in (CKI), 2. Bags-Ready-to-Go (BGR), and 3. Flight Rebooking (FRB), plus one optional project (Document Check (DOC), Self-Boarding (SBG) or Baggage Recovery (BRY)) at the same terminal of an airport it serves.
To achieve Gold Status, airlines must achieve all 6 initiatives listed above at the same location.
To achieve Platinum Status, airlines must have Fast Travel solutions offered to at least 80% of its passengers.
Fact fact: The first airline in the world to earn this certification was Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) back in 2013.
In the last four years, 12 airlines made the prestiges Platinum list. They are a mix of large international airlines with Deutsche Lufthansa AG taking the lead with 96.45% of its passengers being offered with Fast Travel. 50% of these airlines are from Star Alliance.
Top Fast Travel Platinum Airlines (July 2017)
|Airline Code||Airline Name||Region||% of Passengers Offered with Fast Travel||Airline Alliance|
|LH||Deutsche Lufthansa AG||Europe||96.45%||Star Alliance|
|AS||Alaska Airlines||North America||96.18%||No Association|
|LX||Swiss International Air Lines||Europe||95.10%||Star Alliance|
|NZ||Air New Zealand||Asia Pacific||90.07%||Star Alliance|
|HA||Hawaiian Airlines, Inc.||North America||89.27%||No Association|
|SK||Scandinavian Airlines||Europe||89.01%||Star Alliance|
|JJ||LATAM Airlines Brasil||South America||88.30%||oneworld|
|QR||Qatar Airways Co.||Middle East||86.43%||oneworld|
|AC||Air Canada||North America||82.90%||Star Alliance|
|SV||Saudi Arabian Airlines||Middle East||82.19%||SkyTeam|
|XL||LATAM Airlines Ecuador||South America||81.22%||oneworld|
|AA||American Airlines||North America||80.69%||oneworld|
Next Steps and Opportunities
While two thirds of the IATA member airlines having access to the Fast Travel Program in one form or another, there are still a lot of work to complete to maximize savings and productivity. Here is a list of next steps and opportunities in the six initiatives:
– Check-in: Airlines and airports need to work together to ensure that passengers can check in automatically by the airline, by using a kiosk at the airport, online or mobile. The latter two options can be challenging when flights are codeshared and there is no interface between the marketed and operating airlines. In this case, the traveller would have to check in at a specialized spot (e.g. train station) (Related Insight) or directly at the airport. Biometrics may be introduced at this stage though work is still needed on how the complete and accurate data can be collected for web and mobile application check ins.
– Bags ready-to-go: Self-tagging (“offering passengers the possibility to generate and apply the baggage tags themselves”) and Fast Baggage Drop Off (“offering a dedicated position for the purpose of baggage acceptance”). Both can be problematic if the instructions are not clear or not offered in different languages. Biometrics can be implemented at this stage to identify and match traveller names and other information (Related News). From a technology perspective, airlines can work with airports to provide travellers with real time wayfinding and wait time information to drop off baggages.
– Document Check: This process can be a standalone or incorporated with the check-in process. Passengers are used to self-scan their travel documents (passport, ID cards or other acceptable government identifications) which would be verified automatically that the travel document data are compliant with the destination or transit requirements (ex: TIMATIC – Related News). Airlines may want to work with governmental agencies to ensure that all updated documentation standards are included in the scanner and tested before rollout. Biometrics can also be implemented in this process.
– Flight rebooking: When there is a flight disruption (e.g. delay, cancellation, and emergency, etc), airlines provide passenger the possibility to re-booked and to obtain new booking options or new boarding pass through different self-service options (kiosks at the airport / online / mobile application). Similar to the check-in process, flight rebooking can be challenging with codeshared flights where passengers may not be given any available options.
– Self-boarding: Passengers are self-scan their boarding pass (from paper, wallet, mobile application) at the gate to gain entry to the aircraft (Related News). e-gates for self-boarding are gaining popularity in different parts of the world. Airlines and airports would need to work with governmental agencies to ensure that all checks are completed (i.e. additional identification and documentation verification or biometric scans) and imbedded at the self-boarding process. This can be more challenging if the gate is used for domestic and international flights.
– Bag recovery: Passengers are provided with the tools to register a claim for a mishandled bag though airport kiosk, online or mobile application (Related News). While lost baggage rates are at a multi-year low (Related News), it is one area that still costs airlines a lot of money and creates anxiety for passengers. While providing a real-time notification system and the ability to file a claim for lost baggages quickly are important, there are opportunities for airlines and airports to improve on providing tracking information (similar to a postal package) to ease anxiety due to wait time. In addition, airlines can add a receipt scanning feature into their mobile application for passengers entitled to compensation due to baggage recovery.
IATA’s Fast Travel Program pushes airlines and airports to innovate and create new smart solutions to enable a more efficient and less costly travel experience while improving overall passenger satisfaction. While there are 12 airlines with platinum status, that represents only a small number of IATA’s membership and can be further improved. There are many opportunities for airlines and airports to work with governmental agencies to create more consistent processes in the areas of documentation verification and incorporating biometrics in various initiatives.