Will iBeacon change the way passengers travel through airports?

June 26, 2014 |

Within the next year, airline technology organization SITA is expected to launch beacon technology at 10 airports. According to Tnooz, one the largest deployments of the technology thus far is with American Airlines at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

It’s there where a pilot will use Apple iBeacons to help passengers travel through the airport and to their gate.

The source reported that there will be an initial 180-day beta trial with a group of travelers before it becomes available to the airport’s general public in the final three months of 2014.

American Airlines’ director of mobile applications Phil Easter said at the SITA Airline IT Summit that the beacon technology was developed with the mindset of keeping customers happy and isn’t about tracking them or analytics. According to the source, Easter said that the technology will make things easier for travelers by offering them timely and relevant information straight to their mobile devices.

“DFW is crazy, with beacon technology I can tell you you’re at the right gate,” Easter told the source. “With beacon tech I can tell them what’s around them. Travel with beacons airlines [is] easier, less hassle, less stress and allow[s] customers to explore and find stuff.”

Tnooz said that approximately 65 percent of passengers are already at the gate early because of the fear of missing a flight; however, the beacon technology will send notifications to travelers’ phones to tell them the amount of time it will take to get to the gate from where they’re standing or whether the gate they’re at is the correct one.

In addition to flight information, the technology also presents an opportunity for travelers to track baggage, and because 85 percent of carriers’ customers use the Apple operating system, it only makes sense to develop the beacon technology and use it to its maximum potential.

SITA is also working on a common registry so that there’s a similar experience for every customer at each airport terminal that uses the technology.

iBeacon airports
According to Tnooz, SITA is working with several airlines to develop iBeacon technology at airports across the world, including San Francisco International Airport, London Heathrow and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport.

The use of beacon technology at airports will be beneficial to the business travel industry as well as those heading out on family vacations and are sometimes found rushing to meet a flight before it departs.