FOR many air passengers, it’s the part of their journey they least look forward to. But long check-in queues are expected to become a thing of the past at Edinburgh Airport when a pilot scheme to roll out fully-automated bag drops gets off the ground.
Under a trial scheme, passengers will use a self-service facility to drop off heavy luggage, rather than lining up at a conventional check-in desk.
Bags would be placed on a conveyor belt capable of checking the item’s weight and dimensions.
Any excess payments would be calculated electronically before tags are printed and attached by the customer without the need for an attendant.
The terminal even asks passengers if they have packed their own bags, with a “yes” or “no” option presented on a computer screen.
The move is designed to slash waiting times for passengers.
Major airlines such as British Airways and Qantas already use similar technology at international airports including London Heathrow and Sydney.
However, Edinburgh chiefs are keen for the automated system to be rolled out to all airlines if the trial proves successful.
The initiative was discussed at a meeting between airport representatives and technology companies at Edinburgh base TechCube last week.
Airport chief commercial officer John Watson said: “Some customers don’t even touch check-in now. They just have their mobile boarding pass and walk straight through security.
“Their entire engagement with the airline is online except for when they have a bag, which means you have to interrupt that journey to wait in a queue and deal with an individual. That creates uncertainty for the airline and the passenger. This way the passenger will get a choice on how they want to travel.”
Neo UK managing director Paul Wilson, who is working on the automated bag drop software, said: “The airport now seem very enthusiastic about looking outside the aviation industry at how companies are solving problems.”
Edinburgh infographics firm Stipso is behind several other changes linked to mobile phone use.
Passengers will be able to access online top-ten destination lists from as early as next week, with travellers encouraged to rate cities based on culture, price, food and drink, and weather via their phones or laptops. Interactive maps are also likely to be provided telling people journey times from check-in desks to their departure gate.