An F&B delivery service, a humanoid robot, peer-to-peer car rental and electronic bag tags can now be found in Europe’s airports, as Ryan Ghee reports.
Schiphol and HMSHost pilot Deliveroo F&B delivery service
Schiphol, HMSHost and Deliveroo have teamed up to launch a pilot in which passengers flying from Pier E can order food and drinks via their smartphones and have their order delivered to the departure gate within 15 minutes. The wide range of meal options can also be ordered as room service at the Mercure Hotel, which is located beyond passport control in Departure Lounge 3.
Passengers can order food and drinks via the Deliveroo app or website. The meals are prepared at Kebaya and at The Market, The Grill and The Oven located in the Street Food Market. Orders are delivered by scooter for a charge of €2.50.
Tanja Dik, Director of Consumer Products & Services at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, said: “Schiphol is always looking for ways to best serve its passengers. This is an extra service that we would like to offer them. Passengers spend a relatively large amount of time at their gate. Although we of course have a diverse range of catering options in our piers, not everything is available. This initiative allows us to broaden the service we provide to our passengers.”
Dik also stated that the initiative has a more practical side, as it can help Schiphol overcome the fact that space for additional catering outlets is limited. “That’s why we come up with innovative concepts like this and keep a close eye on trends in technological and digital developments,” she said. “If we see opportunities, we’ll then implement them in the hope that we can improve the passenger experience even further. We are very eager to hear our passengers’ feedback.”
While Schiphol is the first airport in Europe to partner with Deliveroo, it is not the first in the world to do so. In November 2017, Dubai International also announced a partnership with the food delivery service.
Munich Airport trials passenger-facing humanoid robot
A 120cm-tall humanoid robot is being trialled at Munich Airport to explore if and how it can help to improve the passenger experience. The robot, called “Josie Pepper”, can be found in Terminal 2 and is on hand to answer passengers’ questions. It is the first humanoid robot equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) technology to be trialled in a German airport.
Josie Pepper, which awaits passengers at the top of the ramp leading to the shuttle connecting the main terminal to the satellite building, speaks English. It can provide a range of information, such as directions to departure gates, and restaurants and shops. The test phase will be used to find out whether the robot is accepted by passengers.
Josie Pepper’s “brain” contains a high-performance processor with WLAN internet access. This creates a connection to a cloud service where speech is processed, interpreted and linked to the airport data. Thanks to the use of AI, over time the system will get gradually better at combining questions with the relevant information to provide more precise replies. IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based AI technologies power the robot’s capabilities.
Gatwick Airport partners with peer-to-peer car rental start-up
Gatwick Airport is hosting a new peer-to-peer car rental scheme, which allows people to rent out their vehicles to others while they are away travelling. Following a successful trial period, the airport has partnered with start-up Car & Away to provide a new ‘Rent & Earn’ service for passengers, alongside the other existing long stay parking options at Gatwick.
Upon registering for the service via the Gatwick parking website, the vehicle owner is provided with information about Car & Away’s qualifying criteria and the renting process. Their vehicle will also receive a mini valet service, irrespective of whether it is booked for hire while parked at the airport.
Renters can find Car & Away’s available vehicles via the company’s partner, Rentalcars.com, when searching for rental cars from Gatwick. Once a suitable match has been found, the vehicle is available for collection from dedicated Car & Away parking bays, located in the valet arrivals area of the South Terminal.
Small vehicle owners can expect to earn up to £80 (€90) per week in rental income, while owners of larger cars can expect to earn up to twice that amount. Car & Away also ensures all vehicles are fully insured, cleaned and meet RAC approved vehicle roadworthiness checks before being offered to renters. Octo Telematics systems are also installed to monitor the vehicle driving patterns.
Once the renter returns, the vehicle passes through the same checking processes and is waiting for the owner in the dedicated Car & Away parking bays.
Gatwick Airport’s Head of Car Parking Gary Wallace said: “We are always searching for ways to provide new, innovative and ground-breaking services so we are pleased to be hosting this exciting new scheme with Car & Away. The new service offers passengers an alternative option when it comes to renting vehicles from the airport and gives them a chance to offset their parking costs.”
Lufthansa Group embraces reusable, electronic bag tags
Lufthansa Group has announced a partnership with BAGTAG, which will allow passengers flying with Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines to use electronic bag tags instead of traditional paper tags.
The BAGTAG device, which can be attached to suitcases and bags using fastening screws and a mounting plate, has an e-paper display which shows all of the relevant flight information, just like a paper bag tag. Users can check-in via the airline’s Android app to receive their boarding pass and baggage label. Using a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connection, the bag tag can then be transferred to the BAGTAG device. This allows passengers to proceed directly to bag drop upon arrival at the airport.
The data is safely transmitted thanks to the use of unique hardware encryption technology, and all relevant information is also stored on an embedded Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip. To ensure the device does not get damaged during the journey, the high-resolution e-paper display is shielded by an impact absorbing lens and the robust and weather resistant enclosure protects the BAGTAG during its journey.
The adoption of the BAGTAG device is the latest example of Lufthansa Group embracing innovation in the baggage space and comes almost two years after Lufthansa made the RIMOWA Electronic Tag available to its passengers.