Australian budget airline Jetstar today announced a trial allowing passengers to receive boarding passes via SMS. The Qantas-owned airline says the technology, developed by Melbourne-based IT company Sissit Group, is a world first.
Customers can choose to automatically check-in for a flight 24 hours prior to departure time and will be sent the unique code with which to book in.
The Sissit Group claims the system, which sends the code as a standard SMS message, is compatible with up to 99 per cent of mobile phones. Some airlines, like Lufthansa, offer similar SMS check-in services but require a mobile with Internet access to access the actual boarding pass. Sissit Group's technology doesn't require a handset to have Internet access.
The SMS feature will be available to customers who purchase Jetstar tickets from the airline's Web site. Once sent to a customer's mobile, the boarding code can be presented at the airport gate in place of a traditional paper boarding pass. Jetstar, the first airline to invest in Sissit Group's technology, plans to trial the SMS boarding pass system at Melbourne's Avalon airport. It intends to roll-out the program Australia-wide by the end of the year.
The SMS service is available for Jetstar Light flights, which only allow carry-on luggage.
Sissit Group CEO, Aaron Hornlimann, told PC World today that the technology had been in development with Jetstar for six months and was written primarily by Hornlimann himself. The technology also involves a unique scanning device which has been developed by the Sissit Group to scan both the SMS check-in code as well as existing barcodes on paper-based boarding passes.
"These new world-first technologies will make the Jetstar airport experience more convenient, hassle-free and simpler," said Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan. "Retrieving a boarding pass for a domestic flight will now be as simple as receiving a standard text message 24 hours prior to travel and having that SMS message electronically scanned at the gate to produce a boarding pass if you do not have bags to check-in."
Hornlimann told PC World that the technology had attracted interest from international airlines, and the Sissit Group was looking to expand the technology to suit a number of other ticketing solutions such as sporting venues and movie theatres. However, Hornlimann told our sister publication ARN earlier today that the Sissit Group could not sell the same technology to Jetstar's domestic competitors in Australia and New Zealand under the contract.
Jetstar currently offers a Web-Check service, which allows its passengers to check-in for Jetstar Light flights up to three days in advance of departure, and up to 10 days in advance of the return flight. The service relies on customers printing boarding passes at home, which can be scanned at the airport gate through a barcode or a three-digit boarding code. Jetstar says the Web-Check service's success encouraged the airline to introduce the new SMS capability.
"Well over half of our existing domestic customers now utilise electronic check-in options in terms of Web-Check or Self Service Kiosks at airports," said Buchanan. "With Australians’ well known love for new technology, we believe this new service will be highly attractive to people whether they are frequent or irregular flyers."