WHITE PLAINS, NY and TORONTO, CANADA, April 25 /CNW/ - Air Canada has
begun using new wireless, mobile IBM self-service kiosks in a trial program to
help expedite passenger check-in at Toronto`s Lester B. Pearson Airport. The
mobile kiosks represent the first jointly-developed solution resulting from
the strategic partnership recently formed by IBM and Air Canada.
Roving Air Canada agents are using the new mobile kiosks to assist in
“line busting” during busy travel periods, check-in passengers on
close-to-departure flights and to facilitate large groups and passengers with
The wireless mobile kiosks are based on the IBM self-service kiosk system
that Air Canada has been using since 1998. This system, which consists of 142
kiosks across eight Canadian airports, has served as many as half the
customers during peak periods and provides passengers with 80% reduction in
check-in time. “We see the mobile IBM self-service kiosks as an extremely
flexible solution that allows us to bring the convenience of quick check-in
directly to the customer, while allowing us to leverage our existing kiosk IT
infrastructure,” said Alice Keung, CIO, Air Canada.
To check-in passengers with the mobile kiosks Air Canada agents—using
a wearable computer and a mobile printer attached to their belt—simply
swipe the passenger`s credit card or Air Canada Aeroplan frequent flier card
through the printer to pull up the reservation. Alternatively the agent can
input the passenger name and flight number on the computer`s touchscreen pad.
Once the record is displayed on the wearable computer—an eight-inch touch
screen display unit—the agent can check the passenger in and print a
boarding pass allowing the customer to proceed directly to the gate. Additionally customers can confirm upgrades or rebook for an earlier flight
through the mobile kiosk.
“The mobile kiosk solution combines a face-to-face transaction with the
convenience of automation,” said Marty Salfen, IBM`s managing director for Air
Canada. “In addition to enabling passengers to check-in in less than 60
seconds, we`ve found that the mobile kiosk also acts as bridge to the regular
self service kiosks,” said Norbert Manger, vice president - airports, Air
Canada. “People who may have steered clear of kiosks in the past, are much
less intimidated by them after having gone through the process with a live
agent. This bridging process is extremely beneficial since our goal is to
achieve 75% automated check in within the next three years, and free up
personnel to handle complex transactions like ticket exchanges,” he added.
In developing the mobile self service kiosks, IBM ported the applications
on Air Canada`s existing kiosk system directly to the hand held units. The
existing architecture consists of an IBM eServer pSeries which acts as a
gateway between the kiosk server and the IBM Transaction Process Facility
application software which holds the reservation data. The kiosk system is
powered by IBM MQSeries, IBM Kiosk Manager and IBM Consumer Device Services
software. The mobile IBM kiosk operates on an 802.11b wireless network and
includes several additional authentication layers and security enhancements on
top of the standard Wired Equivalent Privacy encryption algorithm layer in the
Air Canada plans to add additional mobile kiosk capabilities later this
year, and as part of its strategic partnership with IBM, is also exploring how
wireless technology can bring similar benefits and efficiencies to other
operational areas such as maintenance and sales.
Montréal-based Air Canada provides scheduled and charter air
transportation for passengers and cargo to more than 160 destinations on five
continents. Canada`s flag carrier is the 12th largest commercial airline in
the world and serves more than 30 million customers annually with a fleet
consisting of more than 300 aircraft. Air Canada is a founding member of Star
Alliance providing the world`s most comprehensive air transportation network.
IBM has been working with the airline industry since the early 1960`s,
and today is an information technology supplier to virtually every major
airline in the world. For more information on IBM`s offerings in the travel
industry, visit www.ibm.com/industries/travel.
IBM Global Services is the world`s largest information technology
services provider, with approximately 150,000 professionals serving customers
in 160 countries and annual revenue of approximately $35 billion (2001). In
Canada, there are approximately 11,000 IGS employees providing Canadian
businesses with the most innovative IT services in the marketplace today. IBM
Global Services integrates IBM`s broad range of capabilities to help companies
of all sizes realize the full value of information technology. For more
information, visit www.ibm.com/services.