These days it seems as though speaking to people is a rarity. Supermarkets have self-checkouts, fast food chains have machines that take your order for you, and airports have machines that let you check in and check baggage all by yourself. Now Gatwick is taking things a step further, trialling self-boarding gates to help improve departure times.
The trial is being done in conjunction with EasyJet, with end-to-end biometric systems running for at least three months. The machines themselves sound quite a bit like the automated gates you go through at border control, using systems that verify your passport and boarding pass, alongside facial recognition that confirms you are who you say you are. Part of it will also rely on data collected by self-serve bag drop machines, to try and make things quick and convenient. Anyone who doesn't use them will later have their data collected at the entrance to the boarding gate room.
The airport claims that the whole process takes 20 seconds to complete, assuming you don't end up behind someone who doesn't understand how machines work and stand there looking gormless because they don't know how to follow on-screen instructions. Gatwick also expects 10,000 passengers will take part in the trial, across the 43 routes the machines will be operating on.
Passengers will be informed that a trial is taking place ahead of time, and will ensure they can opt out and choose more traditional ways of getting on the plane. You know, speaking to a real person. Any and all data collected is only supposed to be stored for 24 hours before being destroyed. The data itself will analyse how long people spend using the new gates, and how that affects both queue time and simplicity of a passenger's journey. Once the trial is over the plan is to use the collected data to improve the system, and roll the gates out across the whole airport. [City A.M]