SWISS trials AI-powered boarding

Swiss International Air Lines is trialling the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to conduct its passenger count during boarding on selected flights between April and June, with the aim of enhancing security and easing the workload of its cabin personnel.

The airline has announced a three-month trial of an AI-powered passenger count during the boarding process on selected flights from Zurich. The aim is to enhance security and ease the workload of the airline’s cabin personnel.

AI boarding: SWISS aims to ease workload and enhance security

During the trial, a camera will be temporarily installed in the cabin to record passengers as they embark and determine their total numbers.

The recordings will be used solely to train the AI application in the boarding process, which must be able to distinguish whether a passenger is carrying an infant in their arms and function faultlessly even in challenging lighting conditions.

The reliability of the AI will be continually analysed and improved throughout the trial.

To ensure data security and data protection, SWISS will process all the recordings in full compliance with the strict European (GDPR) and Swiss (FADP) data protection provisions and will then delete the data.

The data recorded will be used solely for passenger count purposes and no individuals will be identified from them. Additionally, only visual images will be recorded, and only in the aircraft door area. No other recordings such as audio will be performed.

During the trial, SWISS cabin crew will also conduct a parallel passenger count using the established manual procedure on the flights concerned.

Passengers on the flights will be informed of the trial before they embark.

SWISS plans to analyse the results of the trial and then decide on the further course of action as well as on a possible introduction.

The use of AI in passenger count procedures could significantly enhance security and ease the workload of cabin personnel, benefiting time-conscious UK-based business travellers.

Your Concierge – the AI-based business travel essential

Global Travel Management has launched an artificial intelligence traveller companion service that provides bespoke travel advice and information, delivered directly to business travellers in real time, as they need it.

Your Concierge is an artificial intelligence-based business travel essential.
Business travellers are provided with bespoke, on-demand information and assistance pre-trip and en route. Your Concierge is available for all GTM customers’ travel bookings.

Your Concierge is a service that provides on-the-move travel service information from the time a business trip is booked to the moment it ends.

Created in conjunction with travel tech start-up company ReTravel, Your Concierge delivers bespoke trip information to any business traveller or travel booker.

Scott Pawley, Managing Director of GTM explained

Your Concierge is a concept we created in order to ensure every GTM customer has all the information they need to hand with them at every part of the trip. But Your Concierge only provides useful information, timed perfectly for when the traveller needs it.

Scott gave an example of how it works

If you book a flight from, say, London to Chicago, Your Concierge will send you a message to remind you to check-in online. It will provide you a link and take you straight to the right page so you can do it straight away, whether that’s on your phone, laptop, PC or whatever works best for you. And the machine learning built into Your Concierge will mean that the message is sent to you at exactly the right time – Your Concierge learns how and when to send the message to you.

But there are other services built into Your Concierge, which Scott explained

The link you get will take you straight to the check-in page. But it will also offer you the chance to look at other information relevant to your trip, like the Covid status of the destination, what vaccination and testing requirements are currently in place, a link to book a test. So you will know that you have all the information and all the testing you need, in place, as you approach the day and time of your flight.

And the information is always provided in real time. This means if, for example, the Covid information on a specific destination is updated after the traveller receives the link, they will still see the most up to date information when they click it. It’s the right, reliable information at exactly the right time.

But that’s not all:

Your Concierge will also give you the chance to book parking at the airport you’re leaving from; book hotel accommodation. Of course, if you have already booked these, then Your Concierge will know, and not offer you the service. But if Your Concierge knows you need it, Your Concierge will give you the info you need to take care of everything on your trip.

Your Concierge also takes care of some of the other items you may have on your wish-list for your trip

Say it’s your first trip to Chicago. You have a spare afternoon. What should you do? Your Concierge will give you a run-down on where to go and what’s on. You can even book tickets to events through Your Concierge.

Scott explained that further additions to Your Concierge are in planning. For example, a restaurant booking service:

Stuck for somewhere to eat on your trip to Chicago? But you also want to try out French-style, Asian inspired food, suitable for vegans? Your Concierge will be at your service and you may soon be enjoying your reservation in the splendour of Le Colonial in Oak Street.

Your Concierge is available to GTM customers on every business travel booking. Contact your Account Manager for more details.

Gatwick harnesses AI to improve passenger flow

London’s Gatwick Airport is to utilise artificial intelligence to make journeys through the airport quicker and easier.

Gatwick has selected Veovo’s Passenger Predictability solution to optimise security operations and improve passenger flow. The partnership will allow the airport to handle increasing passenger numbers and build ‘a more sustainable, passenger-centred travel experience’.

Veovo’s AI-powered technology gives Gatwick real-time awareness of people’s movement and experiences in the North and South terminal security areas. This insight guides the airport to plan layout and lane openings, predict bottlenecks and make informed decisions on the go.

This flexibility allows the airport to integrate and protect its existing stereo vision camera investments with new IoT sensors and data sources, thereby enhancing its understanding of customer behaviour across the airport.

Bronwen Jones, Development Director, Gatwick Airport, said,

Veovo’s cloud solution will help to make our business more resilient by allowing us to accurately measure passenger flow so that we can respond quickly and efficiently to any changes. The new technology will not only lead to smoother journeys for our passengers by increasing automation and optimising our processes, but it is also future-proofed, scalable and, by being cloud-hosted off-site, supports our commitment to sustainability by reducing our energy footprint.

Veovo claim their cloud software platform bundles analytics and ‘rich visualisations’ to ‘deliver historical, live and predicted insights into passenger density and flow by flight’. It provides metrics such as actual and forecasted waiting times, occupancy, and passenger throughput. This allows airports and their partners to prevent congestion, minimise wait times and comply with service-level agreements.

James Williamson, Veovo CEO, said,

We are delighted that the airport has chosen Veovo technology to help make the security checkpoint experience as efficient and smooth as possible. Harnessing all available data, together with behavioural science, will enable the airport to learn from the past, predict the future, and make more informed decisions. We are confident that it will present a unique opportunity for the airport to optimise processes and improve people flow.

London Gatwick joins a host of other major airports, including Manchester, Newark and Amsterdam Schiphol, that have adopted the queue and flow management solution. It enables the airports accurately to plan operations, provide situational awareness and make intelligent decisions in real-time to balance performance, customer experience and efficiency.

British Airways trials robots to guide passengers through the airport

British Airways has announced that from this year it will trial AI-powered autonomous robots at its home at Heathrow Terminal 5 to help customers navigate through the airport, freeing up the airlines’ hosts to help customers with more complex queries.

The cutting-edge robots from tech company BotsAndUs are programmed to interact with passengers  in multiple different languages using the latest translation technology to answer thousands of questions, including real-time flight information.

British Airways has announced it will trial state-of-the-art, fully autonomous robots in 2020.

Additionally, using geo-location technology and dozens of advanced sensors to constantly monitor a 360˚radius, the robots will move around the airport terminal freely and safely, escorting customers to specific locations.

To complement its investment in technology and automation, last year British Airways launched a multi-million pound investment in enhanced training for colleagues as part of its First Contact Resolution Programme at Heathrow. The programme empowers customer service agents to use their expertise, initiative and judgement to solve customer queries on the spot using a suite of specialised apps on iPads.

Ricardo Vidal, British Airways’ Head of Innovation, says the combination of automation and personalised customer service will define the airport of the future:

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use automation to help our customers enjoy a faster and smoother journey through the airport and beyond. These smart robots are the latest innovation allowing us to free up our people to deal with immediate issues and offer that one-on-one service we know our customers appreciate. In the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people offering a truly seamless travel experience.

Andrei Danescu, Founder of BotsAndUs, added:

We are very excited to partner with British Airways. The trial will pave the way for other new and interesting services we can provide to improve the customer journey as we work together to re-imagine the airport experience.

Contact your GTM Account Manager next time you need to fly on British Airways.

British Airways has become the first airline to use next-generation AI and video technology to improve punctuality

British Airways has introduced advanced neural networks, known as artificial intelligence, to its airside operation at Heathrow Terminal 5 to help its people ensure every flight departs safely and on time.

Currently, when customers disembark an aircraft, British Airways’ ground staff manually check and record the details of eighteen different activities that need to be completed before the plane can depart for its next flight – including thorough cleaning of the aircraft interiors, unloading and reloading of catering, luggage and cargo and refuelling. An issue affecting just one of these tasks has the potential to disrupt the entire process and delay the flight’s departure.

Customers flying from Heathrow Terminal 5 can expect a faster getaway as British Airways employs latest artificial intelligence and wearable tech for staff preparing aircraft to depart

Now, using a network of cameras set up around the aircraft stand by technology start-up Assaia, artificial intelligence is employed to compare live footage of the complex turnaround process with the proposed schedule. If the technology detects any issues that could put the aircraft at risk of a delay, an alert is sent to the manager in charge of the turn within seconds via a smart watch, informing them of the issue and empowering them to take action to get the flight back on track.

In this first stage of the trial, British Airways and Assaia have installed four cameras on three stands at Heathrow Terminal 5 and as well as reducing delays, the airline is also able to collect data on every aircraft turn to help make its entire operation more efficient.

British Airways’ Director of Airports, Raghbir S. Pattar, said:

British Airways operates up to 800 flights a day to and from Heathrow; we run a highly complex operation so efficient turnarounds are critical to ensure all 145,000 customers travelling through our home hub every day enjoy a punctual departure.

We are the most punctual of the major short-haul airlines flying out of London and our commitment to introducing the latest technology to complement our outstanding customer service is how we will maintain our position at the top. We’re excited to introduce even more smart, tech-based solutions in 2020.

Max Diez, CEO, Assaia International said:

Our entire team is really excited to be working with British Airways – an airline that is prioritising innovation and sees the value of AI-powered solutions. We’re eager to work with the airline to maximise the potential that the technology has to improve operations

Paul Baker, Sales Director of Global Travel Management said:

As part of British Airways’ £6.5bn investment for customers, this innovation is set to reduce one of the airline’s passengers’ biggest issues: punctuality. It’s great to see the deployment of innovative solutions that will improve the passenger experience.

Global Travel Management is a pioneer in the use of cutting-edge technology to improve our customers’ experience. So we know that the investments British Airways make in AI, as well as wearable tech, driverless airside vehicles and biometric technology will continue to make passenger journeys smoother, easier and more hassle-free.

To book flights on any British Airways route, worldwide and to secure the best fares, please contact your GTM Account Manager.

Intelligent software captures every moment from when aircraft arrive at the airport until they depart to help spot areas to improve punctuality