Getting on a plane soon? Don’t be surprised if the pain of long lines to board, lost baggage and upgrade requests start to go away as we see some new technology being put to good use to make travelling easier (well that’s the theory anyway!)

Innovations that have been tested over the past year include –

At Las Vegas’ McCarran, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf and Munich Airports there are self-boarding stations where passengers scan their boarding passes to open the automated clearance gates and board planes on their own

Lost luggage a thing of the past
Las Vegas McCarran, Lisbon and Milan Airports and Qantas Airlines – a high-tech baggage-handling system using a tag embedded with a radio-frequency identification (RFID) chip to each checked bag. These are scanned and tracked more easily by sensors from conveyor belt to carousel.
Alternatively you can tag your own bag with Alaska Airlines in Seattle.

Upgrades on demand
“Halo” devices (tablet computers) enable the airline crew to walk among passengers in the terminal and process upgrades. EasyJet is testing as well as airports in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel, Edinburgh and Geneva.

To stop people swapping boarding passes once they have gone through security at London’s Heathrow Airport passengers will have their face scanned for identification upon entering and leaving the departure area. This will happen at an automatic gate and be synced with the boarding pass.
Gatwick is doing the same, but this time via iris recognition.

Boarding pass on the move
Near-field communication (NFC) chips are used as replacement for boarding passes on phones (the iPhone is yet to have this technology). Japan Airlines is the first airline globally to enable smart phones with NFC chips to act as boarding passes for passengers flying domestically, and others are lining up to do the same.

Hmmm… now to get rid of those long immigration queues at some airports.

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