Low fare airline Jetstar is about to trial a world-first mobile phone technology that issues boarding passes via SMS. In a bid to reduce check-in times and long queues, the SMS "passes" can be scanned electronically from the phone's screen at the departure gate. The SMS boarding pass was developed during the past six months by the Sissit Group, which was set up in Melbourne in early 2008 to work on airport immigration and other services.
The company's 22-year-old chief executive, Aaron Hornlimann, says the agreement with Jetstar is exclusive in Australia and New Zealand but a number of Asian and Middle Eastern airlines have also shown interest in the technology.
The product analyses the alphanumeric codes included in the SMS and relates them to the airline's database where flight and passenger information is assembled.
Unlike other electronic boarding pass systems, the Sissit SMS pass does not carry all the passenger's information but relates the pass number to details in the airline database. This, Hornlimann says, makes his system much more secure.
The system is also compatible with "at least 98 per cent" of mobile phones in the market.
Trials will start this month with passengers on domestic flights originating at Melbourne's Avalon airport. A successful trial would see the system rolled out across the full Jetstar domestic network by the end of the year, an airline spokeswoman says. Later, it could be introduced in other markets, including Jetstar's domestic services in New Zealand.
The chief executive of Jetstar, Bruce Buchanan, says getting a boarding pass for a domestic flight would be "as simple as receiving a standard text message 24 hours prior to travel and having that SMS message electronically scanned at the gate, if you do not have bags to check in". The system would improve efficiency at the airport by freeing ground staff to "get on with the job of processing checked-in baggage", he says.
During trials of the SMS system, passengers who use Jetstar's online Web Check-in system will be given the option of having their boarding pass and unique boarding code delivered to their phone by SMS.
Some airlines overseas use a similar system but require passengers to have more expensive and less common WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) or internet-enabled smartphones. The Jetstar system will work with any mobile handset capable of receiving SMS texts. Sydney Morning Herald
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