Changi goes big on DIY
SEVEN in 10 travellers at Changi Airport have access to self-service options as part of a push for automation amid a manpower crunch in the aviation industry.
To date, 17 airlines have adopted Changi's Fast and Seamless Travel (Fast) initiatives, which cover check-in, bag-tagging and aircraft boarding. The airlines offer customers at least one of these three do-it-yourself options.
Self-service options were nearly non-existent at Changi Airport as recently as three years ago.
The programme will be further expanded next year with new check-in and bag-tag machines for Tigerair and Scoot travellers.
Jetstar Asia already has a self-bag-drop service, while Changi Airport is trying out new bag-drop machines with Qantas and Qatar Airways to decide which model to install at Terminal 4, which opens in 2017.
Meanwhile, self-boarding gates are available for British Airways and Lufthansa customers.
Changi Airport Group's spokesman Ivan Tan said: "We have been very encouraged by the response of passengers to the roll-out of Fast@Changi, with passengers who are satisfied or very satisfied in the high 90 per cent range. Waiting times for passengers of airlines offering the options have also improved based on initial results."
The response from Singapore Airlines travellers has been very positive, said SIA spokesman Nicholas Ionides.
There are close to 50 do-it-yourself machines at SIA and SilkAir counters in T2 and T3. Plans are in the pipeline for other initiatives to improve customers' experiences at different touch points but details are still being worked out, he said.
Another self-service check-in option at Changi Airport is the straight-to-gate initiative, which allows travellers with just hand luggage and no visa requirement to head directly to immigration.
The service is offered by the SIA group, AirAsia, Cathay Pacific and Jetstar Asia.
Changi's self-service roll-out is part of a global drive led by the International Air Transport Association to make travel hassle-free as passenger volumes increase.
Travellers like finance officer Lucy Lim, 36, said: "In Asia, we're so used to being served, there may be some initial reluctance to switch. The good thing though is that the machines are really easy to use and you usually don't have to stand in long queues."
Even as the push for automation intensifies, Changi Airport will not do away with manned counters entirely, Mr Tan said. He added that there will always be roving customer service agents to assist travellers at the self-service kiosks.