May 13, 2008

Airline Check-In : Is CUSS Dead?

Interesting to see whitepaper from one of the major airline check-in vendors exploring the possibility that CUSS is dead. In the whitepaper they examine impact of internet check-in on CUSS. The CUSS initiative does seem to have stalled in the US. The Airport authorities haven't bought into them (no need to and not enough incentive from IATA) and the airlines are not known for being extravagant especially in these days and times of jet fuel.

Will Internet Check-in Replace CUSS Check-in?

Will Internet Check-in Replace CUSS Check-in?
Check-in applications at airport
WEB browsers
Is CUSS dead
The answer

Will Internet Check-in Replace CUSS Check-in?

Check-in applications at airport

There has been some interest recently in using airline Internet check-inpplications at airports. The proponents of this approach to self service argue that Internet check-in is familiar to passengers and that Internet kiosks are easy to deploy and less expensive than Common Use Self Service CUSS kiosks. But does this mean that Internet check-in will replace CUSS check-in at airports?

Back in the late 90’s self service applications were built using so called “fat client” technology. These early applications were graphically rich with attractive screens that included movies in an effort to entice passengers to use self service. Now that passengers have come to expect (even demand) self service, they are looking for applications that help speed them through the airport. As a result many airlines are moving to a “leaner” application architecture with simple, straightforward graphics that are intuitive and faster. In fact, many applications (including SITA’s PassengerFastcheck) are using WEB browsers to render the application on both dedicated and CUSS kiosks.

WEB browsers

There are several advantages to using a WEB browser architecture for airport self service applications. First, airlines can make business process and branding changes in a timely and cost effect manner. Since application logic is held in a central server, application changes are made only to that server. With the old “fat client”
architecture, business logic was held at each remote kiosk. When business process and
branding changes were made, they had to be deployed to each remote kiosk. This is an
expensive and time consuming process. The second significant advantage of using WEB
browser architecture is the reduction in cost and time for CUSS integration testing by the CUSS Platform Provider and the Airline Application Provider. CUSS Platform Providers perform CUSS integration testing whenever the kiosk software image changes significantly. This ensures that the CUSS Platform is robust and application errors
cannot endanger the common use environment.

Is CUSS dead?

With all these advantages for Internet check-in does it mean that CUSS is dead? Will Internet Check-in replace CUSS? … Not really!

And the reason is that Airport Self Service is different than offsite Internet Self Service. The business processes and the target passenger market are somewhat different. With all the advantages for Internet check-in does it mean does it mean that CUSS is dead?

Internet check-in applications are built for use at home or for other locations where transaction time is not critical. They typically include a number of optional business processes like flight status or shopping for flights, hotel and car rental.
They are written for mouse and keyboard navigation so they tend to have “busy” screens that passengers can read through at their leisure. The typical transaction time for Internet Check-in is 4 to 6 minutes. Since these applications are written for passengers to use at home many airlines establish a 3 hour cut off window beyond
which a particular flight is no longer available for Internet check-in. In addition some carriers treat Internet check-in like an Advance Boarding Pass.

The application prints a document that allows you to go airside but the passenger is required to “check-in” again at the gate to get a real boarding pass. Airlines use this process to reduce the number of no shows and increase the time available to handle denied boarding for oversold flights. Airport check-in applications, on the other hand, are built to “eat the peaks”. Airlines use kiosks to reduce the number of staff required to process passengers during the morning and/or evening peaks. That is why today’s best practice applications have sparse graphics with large buttons that simplify navigating the application using touch screens. Since the business process is time bounded, applications are written for speed and intuitiveness with the typical check-in transaction taking a little over a minute to perform.

Airport self service applications handle business processes that Internet check-in applications do not need to handle. Processes like “buddy seating,” standby for earlier flights, irregular operation (IROP) re-ticketing or re-flighting, selectee functionality and baggage processing. As a result of these processes airport check-in
kiosks tend to include passport readers, magnetic card readers, bar code scanners,
biometric devices and in some countries bag tag printers. That is why they are more expensive.

The access to these devices in a common use environment is via IATA’s RP 1706 CUSS
standard peripheral support. While proprietary methods can be implemented, the use of the IATA CUSS standard will, over time, reduce the cost of airport check-in application development and deployment.

Successful Passenger Self Service at airports requires a partnership of airline and airport.

The answer

So the answer to the question “Will Internet Check-in Replace CUSS Check-in?” is that we need to apply technology appropriately to achieve a business value. Internet check-in can and does have a role to play in the passenger journey. But the processes that today’s Internet Check-in Applications handle are only part of the business processes that airlines use to process passengers at airports. This will continue to progress over time as evolving technology and business process design enhances the airport self service experience with ... Passenger Self Tagging … Passenger Document Check … Passenger Self Boarding.Successful Passenger Self Service at airports requires a partnership of airlines and airports. Each aware of the other’s business process imperative, and each ready to work cooperatively to make the environment efficient, cost effective and hassle free.

Posted by staff at May 13, 2008 10:49 AM