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CHAPTER 1 Background Historical Overview From the beginnings of commercial aviation until the early 1980s, the check-in process was ostensibly the same: an airline agent sold tickets, manually allocated a seat for the passenger, checked documents, weighed bags, and printed the boarding pass. Check-in could be a long process at a counter in the airport and often included waiting in long lines. In the 1980s and 90s, a degree of automation enabled the airline agent to perform these tasks more efficiently, but these improvements had little impact on the traveler in terms of waiting and processing times. In response to increasing facility demands, common use terminal equipment (CUTE) was introduced in the mid 1980s. The first widely used and accepted common use system software was IATA's CUTE. It is known as an "agent-facing" system because it is used by airline agents to manage the passenger check-in and boarding process. Whenever an airline agent logs onto the CUTE system, the terminal is reconfigured and connected to the airline's host system. From an agent's point of view, the agent is now working within his or her airline's information technol- ogy (IT) network. CUTE allowed bag tag and boarding card printing protocols to be translated so that they could be used over shared terminals and printers at ticket counters and gates. For the passenger, the use of CUTE is at first relatively transparent, since the passenger does not directly interact with the CUTE. However, when implemented correctly, CUTE and the other common use solutions provide a more efficient use of the airport facility, which ultimately improves the passenger experience at that particular airport. Because CUTE could be used by all airlines, it became possible to reallocate counter use, enabling the reduction of queues dur- ing peak periods. CUTE was first implemented in 1984 for the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Games. From 1984 until the present, approx- imately 407 airports worldwide have installed some level of CUTE (Transportation Research Board, 2008). Today, the IATA, Airports Council International (ACI), and the ATA have all approved the replacement of CUTE with the common use pas- senger processing system (CUPPS). Starting in the 90s, airlines began self-service in the form of kiosk check-in at airports as a way to avoid long queues and improve operational efficiencies. These kiosks provided the ability to relocate the check-in process away from traditional check-in counters. Passengers could check in and print board- Los Angeles International Airport. ing passes for flights in places that were previously unavailable. 4
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Background 5 At the onset however, passengers typically avoided the use of these kiosks. For the airlines, train- ing and education of its passengers was needed to encourage kiosk use. Moving into 2000, air- lines continued their trials and deployments with dedicated check-in kiosks, both in function and placement. The late 1990s and early 2000s marked a time when airport capacity and airport-capacity plan- ning were high priorities. Increased passenger counts at most major U.S. airports, along with increased flight activity, were causing demand for higher capacity passenger facilities. During these times, construction of new gates, concourses, and terminals were considered. It was also during these times that common use at U.S. airports began to enter more heavily into the dialogue. Many U.S. airport operators were aware of the use of common use outside of the U.S., and these strate- gies were starting to be considered at more U.S. airports. Airports such as Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, JFK Terminal 4, as well as Toronto Pearson International Airport, and Vancouver International Airport, were esteemed as examples of common use within North America. Those airports that implemented common use began implementation at limited locations, usually driven by international air traffic, and even began considering implement- ing common use in their domestic gates and terminals (Transportation Research Board, 2008). Recognizing the expanding use of the self-service check-in kiosk, and in an attempt to help airports manage facility con- gestion, IATA published in 2003 the Common Use Self Service (CUSS) Recommended Practice. As per the IATA CUSS Recom- mended Practice 1706c Version 1.1 (2007), the basic idea of the CUSS concept was to enable airlines to provide passenger ser- vices at a shared kiosk. Like the dedicated check-in kiosk, CUSS kiosks were typically located either at or near the check-in coun- ters, or within queuing stations in the check-in areas, but other examples of kiosk locations included parking garages, rental car centers, and even off-site locations such as hotels and conven- tion centers. As of February 2010, 149 airports worldwide have CUSS installed (IATA, 2010). At approximately the same time as the introduction of kiosk check-in, airlines introduced an Internet check-in process (web check-in). Alaska Airlines was the first to offer online Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. check-in. The system was first offered on a limited basis start- ing in September 1999 and was available to the general public on selected flights a month later. Web check-in is the process in which passengers confirm their presence on a flight `online,' and typically print their own boarding passes. This process allowed the traveler who did not have any bags to check to skip the airport check- in process and proceed straight to the gate. Over time, airlines have expanded their offerings, both through web check-in and through self-service kiosk check-in. Today, depending on the airline and the specific flight, passengers may enter details such as meal options and baggage quantities, select their preferred seating, pay for upgrades, and other options. For the airlines, use of these self-service systems allows for a more efficient operation, with a greater ability to cope with surges in passenger numbers. The systems also lessen activity at the airport, saving airlines money and reducing passenger waiting times. To encourage airline innovation, IATA began a program in 2004 called Simplifying the Busi- ness (StB) (IATA 2008). StB's objective was to simplify processes and better utilize technologies in order to promote efficiencies and decrease costs. Some of the initiatives in StB affected and improved the check-in process, and included