Guests are now checking out the latest evolution in check-in technology at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). Spirit Airlines unveiled its automated self-bag drop experience with biometric photo-matching system, which represents a new paradigm for the U.S. airline industry. The redesigned ticket lobby is packed with industry-leading technology designed to limit face-to-face interaction, streamline flight check-ins and get Guests from the curb to the brightest planes in the sky quicker than ever.
Spirit’s self-bag drop system is now currently operating at New York’s LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Chicago O’Hare, and it was recently recognized for two prestigious awards. The “2021 Best Airport Innovation” by the APEX/IFSA Awards, and also a Gold Stevie® Award winner for The Best New Transportation Product or Service in The 2021 American Business Awards®.
The airline began developing the nation’s first biometric photo-matching solution for domestic air travel in 2019 with its partner Materna Intelligent Passenger Solutions (IPS) North America. Spirit was also the first to pursue combining it with automated self-bag drop capabilities to reduce face-to-face interaction. Following an initial testing period at DFW with both manual ID check and biometric opt-in, the biometric photo-matching solution will eliminate the need to stop and hand government-issued identification to an agent when checking baggage.
Here’s how biometric photo-matching works:
- Guests start by tagging their own checked bags after checking in at the kiosk and then proceed to the automated self-bag drops.
- Guests are advised of the biometric option after scanning their boarding pass at the self-bag drop unit. They may either opt in and continue unassisted or opt out for agent-assisted service.
- Once the Guest opts in, the unit instructs them to scan their ID on the built-in hardware.
- The unit compares its scan of the photo on the ID with a facial scan captured by its on-board camera, along with comparing identification information with the Guest’s reservation details. None of the data is transmitted to any government agency.
- A successful match initiates the rest of the automated bag check-in process. Guests are instructed to place their bags on the conveyor belt attached to the unit, which then scans the bags, weighs them, accepts payment for any additional optional services, and sends them straight into their airport’s checked baggage system without any further action from the Guest.
“We’ve been on a mission to find opportunities to continue improving every facet of the Guest experience, to include investing in automation and self-service to streamline the travel journey so Guests spend less time in lobbies,” said Mike Byrom, Vice President of Airport Services for Spirit Airlines. “Our Guests are tech-savvy, and they appreciate options. Also, limiting touchpoints and unnecessary face-to-face interactions is currently changing the way airports operate.”
“Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is committed to identifying and testing innovative solutions that deliver secure, efficient and frictionless customer experiences,” said DFW Airport Vice President of Innovation Jodie Brinkerhoff. “We are excited to support our partner Spirit Airlines as it introduces a self-directed, biometrically enabled check-in and bag drop process—which ultimately provide the customer with greater control and fewer requirements for face-to-face processing and document exchanges.“
Spirit Guests currently check between 400–500 bags daily at DFW and growing, and each of which represents a face-to-face interaction that can be streamlined. Testing data shows the new procedure drops average processing time to just 70 seconds per Guest, reducing time spent at bag check by 30 percent. Additionally, Guests can take advantage of the time savings and reduction in face-to-face interactions whether they’re travelling domestically or internationally.
The self-bag drop system uses software capable of analyzing key physical features on more than 50,000 forms of ID from nearly 200 countries that a Guest could potentially use when travelling in the United States. Combined with the units’ scanning hardware, the software confirms the authenticity of an ID and rejects fraudulent documents.