by Soumik Ghosh

SpiceJet implements NFC and Bluetooth; slashes check-in time by 90 percent

Nov 17, 2016
BluetoothBusinessCar Tech

Faced with serpentine queues at check-in counters, SpiceJet implemented NFC and a beacon-based technology to cut down boarding time.

Setting sights on becoming India’s preferred airline of choice for the price-conscious segment of the populace, SpiceJet is harnessing technology to stay at the top of the game.

In 2016, SpiceJet was the only established airline in the country to increase its market share, from 9.4 percent to 13.2 percent.

Steadfast in its approach to improving travel experience by introducing innovative solutions, SpiceJet introduced a Near Field Communication (NFC) based check-in to speed up the boarding process. This makes the low cost carrier the first airline in the country to introduce a beacon-based check-in process.

The challenge

A constant challenge from an airline’s perspective is the space crunch at airports, and reducing the time a customer has to wait there.

SpiceJet’s aim was to smoothen the check-in process, and this made the airline look at two technologies – Beacon and NFC, which can identify a passenger when he or she walks into a particular premise. 

“The question we asked ourselves was why can’t we identify the customer right then and there, and inform them of their PNR? Following this, we can prompt the customer asking him or her if they’d like to do the check-in,” says Glory Nelson, senior VP–IT at SpiceJet.

The NFC-based technology enables short range communication between compatible devices. Customers who have booked their tickets through the SpiceJet mobile app are able to check-in through their NFC-enabled smartphones.

The solution

“This technology enables our passengers to receive their boarding pass on their smartphones. Customers will have to simply open the app and touch the mobile device on the NFC check-in poster available at the airport to receive their mobile boarding pass on their smartphones,” explains Nelson.

 At a simple touch, the system identifies the customer automatically, performs the check-in and pushes the QR-based boarding pass to the customer’s mobile app. Based on the beacon location, the mobile app is designed to perform specific operations.

The time taken for the entire process – right from the customer getting the notification to receiving the boarding pass takes less than 40 seconds now. It took around seven minutes earlier

The customers would then just need to leave their check-in baggage at the dedicated drop-in counters and proceed for security check. “This helps us in ensuring customer convenience and at the same time, allows us to improve our manpower utilization,” says Nelson.

The benefits

The benefit from the customers’ perspective is that he/she doesn’t have to wait at the airport at all. So, the traditional check-in process of standing in front of a kiosk is now a thing of the past. And so is the need to access a computer for web check-in.

“The time taken for the entire process – right from the customer getting the notification to receiving the boarding pass takes less than 40 seconds. The usual check-in process, assuming that the check-in kiosks are unoccupied, takes around six to seven minutes,” reveals Nelson.

“Since the customers can simply walk in and complete the check-in process, we do not have to deploy additional staff to cater to the customers. And this staff can be used for other customer service related functions,” she adds.

Nelson says that deploying this technology is quite easy as these beacons and sensors are so small, they can be installed on a wall or a gate – it doesn’t occupy any space. “Now, if we can push more traffic to the mobile, that crowd can be completely taken care of by the beacon-based check-in,” she explains.

The strategy can be deployed across other airports as well, but they need to be equipped with e-boarding gateways.