The following steps represent a summary of the vision drawn up by the IATA SPT group based around the passenger "travel smart card" concept.

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The passenger will make the airline reservation using a personal travel smart card through his own PC, providing personal information, which can also be used for initial controls such as the need for a visa. The card will also contain an optional area for service preferences, frequent flier memberships and travel information. Seat selection, check-in location and itinerary will be provided on screen. Payment is by credit card or direct bank transfer

Check-in terminal

Passenger inserts travel smart card into reader at airport and enters flight number on an interactive screen. A biometric scan verifies identity match with travel card. Reservation record accessed and boarding details (seat, gate, etc)confirmed. System prints a boarding card/baggage receipt and the passenger passes through the security check to the departure area.

Baggage checks

Baggage is placed on an automated device which registers the number of pieces/weight and produces a tag containing a radio frequency (RF) chip used to track the bag to destination. The system will assess any excess baggage charge, which would be paid automatically by credit card. Baggage may be checked before leaving for the airport at a dedicated secure baggage check-in facility. Again this uses the travel smart card, which checks flight number and name against the reservation.

Departure control checks

Passenger identity checking can be integrated into the one-stop check, with the details passed automatically to the exit control authority's system for review. If more extensive information is required, the passenger will be moved into a separate area for further examination. But this would be the exception rather than the norm. Check-in will also provide passenger and flight details to the control authorities at destination. The passenger may have to respond to a series of simple on-screen questions.

Airport shopping

Passengers wishing to shop would check-in at normal positions at least 45 minutes before departure, while fast-track passengers would check in at special counters 30 minutes or even less before departure, but might pay a premium for this service.

Aircraft boarding

The passenger will enter the gate lounge or board the aircraft by inserting his travel smart card and completing a biometric scan. Simultaneously, this confirms to the automated baggage reconciliation system that the passenger is aboard and checked baggage is authorised to travel.

Arrival at destination

The passenger picks up luggage in the baggage hall and proceeds to an electronic exit gate which, unless there is some discrepancy or security issue, will be the only barrier to exiting the airport. Again, the smart card and a biometric scan are used to confirm identity, while the RF baggage chip will be matched to ensure that correct bags have been collected. Unless the control authorities wish to interview the passenger, the screen will tell the passenger to proceed and the gate will open into the arrivals hall. If the passenger himself wishes to make a customs declaration or similar, this can be requested on the interactive screen. The interactive screen can also be used to provide any further information, such as ground transport arrangements and meeting details.

Source: Airline Business