Borry Vrieling, founder and Managing Director, eezeetags, interviewed by Ross Falconer.
The prevalence of self-service technologies to streamline the passenger experience is growing exponentially. From booking and checking-in online or at a kiosk, self-service initiatives have expanded to include bag drop points, e-gates and self-boarding gates, for example, and airports are increasingly implementing these solutions.
In May 2018, Maastricht Aachen International Airport introduced eezeetags’ intuitive bag tags. Traffic at Maastricht is very seasonal, serving holiday package carriers such as Corendon and Sunweb, while Ryanair also operates at the airport.
“The strong seasonally-oriented operation puts a special challenge on staff, many of whom are employed part-time during peak season,” says Borry Vrieling, founder and Managing Director, eezeetags. “The airport was looking for a way to make things easier, not only for the passengers, but also for the younger and less experienced staff, taking away some of the time needed for training.”
Indeed, Maastricht Aachen International Airport chose to work with eezeetags for its desk-operated, agent-assisted bag drop. “In our opinion, we developed eezeetags for the inexperienced passenger that only flies once a year,” Vrieling explains. “However, the use of eezeetags speeds up the process so much that reports have come back to us that staff are able to check-in a full flight up to half an hour quicker. They especially like the fact that they create no waste behind the desk, as there is no backing paper to pull away.”
The operation at Maastricht was rolled out in collaboration with Bagchain, which provides check-in solutions for airports. Four printing stations have been commissioned, where passengers can scan their boarding passes, print out their eezeetags bag tag, and self-tag their bags.
Meanwhile, in the US, leading cruise line Royal Caribbean has undertaken a proof of concept with airport technology company IER to tag the bags of passengers arriving at the ship. This has traditionally been a manual process. “In combination with the IER technology and eezeetags, this process is much simplified, speeding up the whole end-to-end process, enhancing again the passenger experience,” says Vrieling.
Importantly, this potentially paves the way for implementation of the technology at US airports. “More airline-related tests will be conducted in the second half of 2018 in the US, enabled by the upcoming biometrics, making a non-assisted bag drop possible within the boundaries of the TSA regulations,” Vrieling adds. “While still behind what is happening in Europe, this new technology might be the real start of self-service bag drop in the US.”
Another innovative application has been developed for checking-in baggage at the gate.
“We all have witnessed by now that you bring a carry-on to the airport, but once boarding the plane you find out that the overhead baggage compartments do not have enough space to carry all the items, and your cabin case needs to go in the hold,” says Vrieling. “For a gate agent, checking carry-on luggage is a stressful job. Not only are they confronted with lengthy discussions with passengers, but the administrative process is quite cumbersome. The agent manually writes a bag tag and must enter the pre-printed tag number manually into the reservation system. This process can take 2-3 minutes per passenger or bag.”
Bagchain has developed a so-called “gate-printer” that automates this process. By scanning the passenger’s boarding pass, they update the reservation directly in the DCS (departure control system) and print an eezeetags bag tag. “The use of eezeetags at this point is maybe even more important than the terminal, since you do not want to carry waste after checking-in a flight,” Vrieling comments. “It also speeds up the process – within 10 seconds a carry-on is identified, and passengers that volunteer can easily do this themselves.”
The solution will first be seen at Eindhoven Airport for Transavia.