First self-service check-in kiosks. Now self-service boarding?
Continental Airlines is testing automated boarding in a turnstyle-like manner at one gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
A reader at the gate scans a two-dimensional barcode on passengers' boarding passes, says airline spokeswoman Christen David.
The self-boarding gate, as Continental calls it, works with all types of Continental boarding passes, regardless if they are electronic mobile boarding passes, printed online or from a kiosk, or issued by a check-in agent.
In fact, the boarding pass itself is identical to boarding passes used in traditional boarding with gate agents.
At the gate where the system is being tested, their are two self-boarding lanes and one standard lane with an agent, David says.
The test, which began in June, is designed to free up gate agents for other tasks so they can focus on the needs of individual passengers, David says.
And, of course, automated boarding may mean that Continental would be able to trim costs by employing fewer humans.
The spokesperson declined to comment on how the new system impacts security.
However, the Transportation Security Administration is on-board with the test.
Self-boarding is "widely used" by airlines in Asia and Europe, including Continental's Star Alliance partner, Lufthansa, David says.
David adds that Continental has received positive feedback about the test and will determine what steps to take, if any, once the testing is completed.