SITA Lab, the technology research arm of IT provider SITA, working on a joint innovation programme with Orange Business Services, its strategic partner for communications services, has shown that passengers could use an NFC-enabled phone as a boarding pass to open security, airline lounge and boarding gates automatically.

The company says it has unveiled the first proof-of-concept which uses the NFC chip inside smartphones.

This SIM-based proof-of-concept demonstrates how passengers’ journeys through the airport can become much smoother as they use their NFC-enabled phone to simply “tap and check-in” or “tap and board” their flight.

This, according to SITA, is the first demonstration of the approach to NFC that is favoured by the GSMA and has been selected by 45 mobile operators representing more than 60 percent of the mobile phone market.

NFC allows smartphones and similar devices to communicate with each other using radio frequencies by either tapping or bringing them within a range of a few centimetres. NFC-enabled smartphones can hold secure information such as credit card data, or passenger data including boarding passes and identities. They can be used for simple and convenient contactless transactions such as payment or airline boarding.

SITA highlighted that overall, a passenger using an NFC-enabled device can be processed faster than any of the current boarding processes available today.

NFC holds much promise for simplifying the journey and IATA is looking closely at this technology. With GSMA, IATA has examined six main use cases - passenger check-in, baggage check-in, security check-point, lounge access, boarding and post-flight - and listed the benefits of mobile NFC for air travel. This SITA/Orange project has identified the need for standards to drive forward the use of NFC in the air transport industry.

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