Air New Zealand Introduces Biometric Bag Drop Off Points

Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9

Air New Zealand (NZ – Star Alliance) introduces the world’s biometric self service bag drop off terminals.

Air New Zealand

As part of the airline’s continued efforts to improve passenger experience and maintain its newly earned Platinum status with IATA’s Fast Travel Program (News – September 8, 2015), Air New Zealand installed the first 5 of 13 biometric bag drop terminals at its home airport in Auckland (AKL).

Air New Zealand Biometric Terminals

Air New Zealand Biometric Terminals

The terminals feature the following check in functions:

  • Passport scanning
  • Boarding pass scanning
  • Face capture camera
  • Baggage weighing and handling system
World's First Biometric Self Check Terminal

Air New Zealand Introduces World’s First Biometric Self Check Terminal
Source: Air New Zealand

John Whittaker, Air New Zealand Group General Manager Airports, said: “We can now streamline the check-in process for our customers at Auckland International Airport and provide a more seamless airport journey. It will reduce the time it takes for our customers to check in and free up our airport team to interact with customers and support them through the self-service process should they require assistance.”

Air New Zealand has the aspiration to be a leading digital airline and leading Australasian digital organization. The automated bag drops follows the introduction of another world’s first – Airband™ in November 2015. It is a wristband embedded with technology that  triggers text messages to guardians with children travelling unaccompanied.

Air New Zealand AirBand

Source: Air New Zealand

This new service applies to all children aged between five and 11 who’re travelling alone – but those aged up to 16 years can choose to opt in. It is free until February 3, 2016. Bookings made from this date onwards will incur an additional fee of NZD$15 per child for each one way domestic journey, or NZ$40 per child for each one way international journey applies. (December 10, 2015 – 1 NZ$ = 0.67 US$, 0.62 € or 0.45 £).

How It Works

Passengers will use their passports and boarding passes to locate their reservations. They will then look into the face capture camera which will take a picture used to match the identity. Featuring technology similar to that used by SmartGate passport control facilities, the additional layer of biometric information will help positively verify passengers before they are  invited to place their bags on the scale to be weighed and sent through to the airline’s baggage handling system.


As the first of its kind in the world to feature biometric technology, Air New Zealand is sailing in uncharted territory. Other airports and airlines will likely look to passenger adaption and feedback data as they decide to implement such technology in the future.

Success factors

  • Air New Zealand will need to have additional staff trained on the technology and have them on hand to guide passengers at the terminals.
  • Additional tools like Youtube videos and social media engagements may be used to build awareness and lower resistance of usage.
  • Be prepared to respond to questions on privacy and confidentiality as a picture is being captured. Some would have concerns over how the picture is being taken/used, how it is stored and how it can be accessed. Since local regulations are different around the world, the airline should consult different authorities to ensure it meets all standards regarding the use of pictures.

Only five terminals are being introduced currently to gauge engagement. This will provide the airline to familiarize with the new technology and collect feedback. The data can be used to modify and improve the systems while also assisting the airline in managing ROI.

Future Ahead

Look for wider adaption of the technology in the future to improve efficiency. For example, the picture can be used in security checkpoints to identify passengers. In this scenario, additional manual checks of passports and other identification documents may be reduced or eliminated. Additionally, boarding can be performed using the boarding pass and biometric scanner to speed up the process.

Final Call

Air New Zealand enters a new era with the introduction new biometric terminals in Auckland. There is likely some initial adoption challenges that the airline will address. If successful, look for the airline to implement the solution to more airports around the world.