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Air Canada Introduces Wireless Mobile Kiosks From IBM

First Technology Solution Resulting From Strategic Partnership Between IBM And Air Canada

WHITE PLAINS, NY & TORONTO, CANADA - 25 Apr 2002: Air Canada has begun using new wireless, mobile IBM self-service kiosks in a trial program to help expedite passenger check-in at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson Airport. The mobile kiosks represent the first jointly developed solution resulting from the strategic partnership recently formed by IBM and Air Canada.

Roving Air Canada agents are using the new mobile kiosks to assist in "line busting" during busy travel periods, check-in passengers on close-to-departure flights and to facilitate large groups and passengers with special needs.

The wireless mobile kiosks are based on the IBM self-service kiosk system that Air Canada has been using since 1998. This system, which consists of 142 kiosks across eight Canadian airports, has served as many as half the customers during peak periods and provides passengers with 80% reduction in check-in time. "We see the mobile IBM self-service kiosks as an extremely flexible solution that allows us to bring the convenience of quick check-in directly to the customer, while allowing us to leverage our existing kiosk IT infrastructure," said Alice Keung, CIO, Air Canada.

To check-in passengers with the mobile kiosks Air Canada agents -- using a wearable computer and a mobile printer attached to their belt -- simply swipe the passenger's credit card or Air Canada Aeroplan frequent flier card through the printer to pull up the reservation. Alternatively the agent can input the passenger name and flight number on the computer's touchscreen pad. Once the record is displayed on the wearable computer -- an eight-inch touch screen display unit -- the agent can check the passenger in and print a boarding pass allowing the customer to proceed directly to the gate. Additionally customers can confirm upgrades or rebook for an earlier flight through the mobile kiosk.

(Editor's Note: Print quality photo of the wireless mobile IBM kiosk being used by Air Canada can be found at: www-916.ibm.com/press/photo.nsf/photoview?OpenView&Start=1&Count=100&Expand=26#26).

"The mobile kiosk solution combines a face-to-face transaction with the convenience of automation," said Marty Salfen, IBM's managing director for Air Canada. "In addition to enabling passengers to check-in in less than 60 seconds, we've found that the mobile kiosk also acts as bridge to the regular self-service kiosks," said Norbert Manger, vice president - airports, Air Canada. "People who may have steered clear of kiosks in the past, are much less intimidated by them after having gone through the process with a live agent," he added.

In developing the mobile self-service kiosks, IBM ported the applications on Air Canada's existing kiosk system directly to the hand held units. The existing architecture consists of an IBM eServer pSeries , which acts as a gateway between the kiosk server and the IBM Transaction Process Facility application software, which holds the reservation data. The kiosk system is powered by IBM MQSeries, IBM Kiosk Manager and IBM Consumer Device Services software. The mobile IBM kiosk operates on an 802.11b wireless network and includes several additional authentication layers and security enhancements on top of the standard Wired Equivalent Privacy encryption algorithm layer in the 802.11b network.

Air Canada plans to add additional mobile kiosk capabilities later this year, and as part of its strategic partnership with IBM, is also exploring how wireless technology can bring similar benefits and efficiencies to other operational areas such as maintenance and sales.

Montreal-based Air Canada provides scheduled and charter air transportation for passengers and cargo to more than 160 destinations on five continents. Canada's flag carrier is the 12th largest commercial airline in the world and serves more than 30 million customers annually with a fleet consisting of more than 300 aircraft. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance providing the world's most comprehensive air transportation network.

IBM has been working with the airline industry since the early 1960's, and today is an information technology supplier to virtually every major airline in the world. For more information on IBM's offerings in the travel industry, including the seven-year, $908 million outsourcing agreement IBM and Air Canada announced last July, visit www.ibm.com/industries/travel.

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Contact(s) information

Linda Hanson
IBM Media Relations
(914) 642-5447
hansonmu@us.ibm.com

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