GBM implement Gulf Air automated check-in

Gulf Business Machines has completed the deployment of a new check in kiosk project. Gulf Air passengers will now be able to check-in themselves using the IBM-based kiosks, that are located at airports across the region.

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By  Paul Barthram Published  July 30, 2003

I - Introduction|~||~||~|Gulf Business Machines (GBM) has completed the deployment of a new check in kiosk project for Gulf Air. Gulf Air passengers travelling from Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Muscat will now be able to check-in themselves using the IBM-based kiosks, that are located at airports across the region.

The self-service kiosks—which can be viewed in either Arabic or English— allow passengers who are travelling with just hand luggage, to process their own check-in details. The kiosk identifies the user from their frequent flyer card, credit card or airline coupon, and can then check-in up to four passengers onto the flight, for both single and multiple sector travel. The machines also print all necessary vouchers, including invitations to the airline’s executive lounge.

“This IBM e-business technology enables Gulf Air to enhance passenger handling as well as provide a number of additional conveniences for our passengers. In addition to being able to view and select seats from a graphical seat map, passengers can have their frequent flyer points credited to their Gulf Air Frequent Flyer cards or to partner airline’s cards, if they are flying on a multi-sector code share flight,” commented Tariq Sultan, vice president of information technology at Gulf Air.

“Self-service check-in kiosks are gaining popularity globally and their introduction to the region by Gulf Air provides a new level of passenger convenience as well as efficiency for the airline,” added Sultan.

The kiosk technology was jointly developed by IBM Middle East, IBM Canada, GBM and Gulf Air.

The devices run on Windows 2000, and incorporate a touch-activated screen connected to an IBM Net Vista PC. The kiosks were built in North America, then shipped to the region and installed and retested by GBM and IBM in Bahrain.

Gulf Air’s technical personnel were then given on-site training so they would be fully able to support the kiosks following the implementation.
||**||II - Previous Experience|~||~||~|
GBM and IBM had prior experience with airport control systems, which was one of the reasons why the distributor was chosen to work on the project, according to Abdulla Ishaq, general manager of Bahrain Business Machines, GBM’s Bahrain operation. “GBM was chosen for the project for several reasons, including our unique relationship with IBM, which is the largest vendor of standards compliant self-service kiosks, having completed some 2,500 similar deployments for the travel and transportation industries worldwide.”

The distributor was also responsible for the back-end systems that link the kiosks to the usual check-in systems, as well as setting up the facility to manage the kiosks remotely. Gulf Air now plans to roll out more kiosks to more airports and other locations such as hotels. For the actual kiosks, IBM believes that it will be possible to develop a wide range of additional functionality, according to Thierry Gnych industry services executive and managing consultant for IBM Middle East.

“These kiosks are part of IBM’s blueprint for airline CRM (customer relationship management) and contribute to our multi-channel delivery strategy, throughout the passenger’s travel experience,” explained Gnych.

“Potential future applications could include e-check-in with a baggage drop facility; e-ticketing that enables tickets to be purchased at the kiosks using credit cards; and integration of the kiosks with wireless devices such as PDAs for wireless anytime, anywhere check-in facilities. Other future applications could include automatic passport reading at the kiosks using iris recognition or fingerprint reading; as well as other conveniences such as the ability to purchase car hire vouchers,” Gnych added.||**||

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