Star Alliance and ARINC have completed the testing for a new check-in technology that provides fast common-use bag drop capability. A comprehensive trial at Tokyo Narita Airport was supported by Star Alliance member carriers Air Canada, ANA, and Asiana.

Passengers on participating airlines can check in, either online or at a self-service kiosk and then proceed to a convenient common bag drop counter to have their luggage tagged for the appropriate airline and flight.

Until now, accepting luggage for several airlines at a single counter was possible only if all the carriers used the same departure control system (DCS), which is not very often the case. To address this, ARINC developed a web-based application called ARINC ExpressDropSM which allows frontline employees to print bag tags for several carriers from a single workstation, without separately accessing each individual carrier’s DCS.

The need for a common-use bag drop has mainly been driven by the increased use of new check-in methods such as mobile phones, online Internet check-in, and self-service kiosks. As a result, many passengers today arrive at airports with their boarding passes in hand and need only to drop off their bags.

"As part of our ‘move under one roof’ strategy, we would like to offer Star Alliance customers common bag drop counters," said Lee Hock Lye, vice president products and services, Star Alliance. Due to differing IT systems, this has proved challenging until now. By participating in the trial of the ARINC solution, we will gain valuable experience and knowledge, which should allow us to introduce common bag drop counters and further improve the seamless Alliance travel experience in the foreseeable future."

The core of ARINC ExpressDrop is a web-enabled application accessible from existing airport workstations. It allows airlines to retain their preferred DCS under a single interface, permitting agents to print baggage tags for passengers on multiple airlines at a single baggage counter. The overall approach improves operating efficiency, reduces staff training and reduces the number of service counters required, lowering overall costs.

Jim Martin, managing director of ARINC’s Asia Pacific division, stated "ARINC is very pleased with the preliminary results of the ExpressDrop trial. We are also fortunate to have the support and cooperation of three Star Alliance member carriers, at a major hub airport. Meeting their requirements will help us ensure a thorough system evaluation during this trial period."

The trial demonstrated ExpressDrop’s ability to meet the airlines’ operational and performance requirements. Star Alliance said this project is a further example of how the alliance organisation can provide added benefits to its member carriers, by sharing the results of this trial with all member carriers.