Increased automation based on Heathrow Terminal 2 experience
This revised layout goes hand in hand with the installation of new self-service check-in machines which, in addition to issuing boarding passes, also print baggage tags. This makes Star Alliance the first airline alliance to offer international travellers from Japan the option of self-printing and self-tagging.
“Our initiative in Narita is part of our global strategy of reducing operational complexities and striving for standardisation with the aim of providing customers with a better travel experience”, said Mark Schwab, CEO Star Alliance. “Initial statistics show that the majority of travellers are already making use of the new self-service option”, he continued.
The 116 new common use kiosks form the backbone of the new concept at Narita. These allow customers to check-in for any of the 17 member carriers – Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Austrian, Asiana Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, SWISS, Turkish Airlines, THAI and United – flying from Terminal 1. Passengers with hand luggage only can proceed directly to the gate, while those with checked luggage can obtain the corresponding tag from the kiosk, apply it, and then proceed to special baggage drop-off counters. At present three member airlines offer bag tag printing with the remaining 14 scheduled to do so by mid-July. Full service check-in desks for First, Business and Star Alliance Gold customers as well as for Economy Class passengers requiring additional support complete the offer.
Currently 18* Star Alliance member carriers serve Narita, providing passengers the choice of 1,300 weekly flights to 61 destinations in 24 countries.
The changes implemented at Narita were driven by a combination of reasons. In terms of capacity, with both the number of Star Alliance carriers serving Narita and the passenger volume increasing, additional check-in space would have been needed. This made the airport an ideal location for implementing a new concept based on the experience obtained during the London Heathrow Terminal 2 project. There, the Alliance has succeeded in reducing the required check-in space by 20% as a result of the new check-in concept.
In addition to Narita, Star Alliance has made changes to the check-in concept at São Paulo – Guarulhos and Los Angeles Tom Bradley International Terminal based on the experience the Alliance made during the Terminal 2 project at London – Heathrow Airport, where a completely new check-in concept was put into place. There, all Star Alliance member airlines use the same check-in kiosks, make use of common bag-drop counters and even share Economy Class check-in desks. Using the success of the Terminal 2 project as a base, the Alliance is enhancing the customer experience at other airports around the globe, implementing various technological advances made in London. In addition, at a Chief Executive Board Meeting held earlier this month in Zurich, the member carrier CEOs agreed to develop standardised processes for airport passenger services, covering off-airport and self-service check-in, fast bag drop technology at airports, baggage self-tagging and automated travel document validation. As these standards are implemented, these will not only provide smoother service to the Alliance’s customers but also reduce infrastructure requirements and handling costs at all of the 1,300 airports the Alliance is presently serving.
* In addition to the 17 member carriers operating out of Narita Terminal 1, Air India flies to Narita Terminal 2.