User avatar
fxramper
Topic Author
Posts: 5837
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 12:03 pm

Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:37 pm

DL is leading the pack for US flag carriers to move away from the drudge gate agent. Charging passengers a fee to exit the plane first; save the money and let the work force shrink.

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2012/0...rnstile-boarding/?intcmp=obnetwork
 
tonystan
Posts: 1265
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:39 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:46 pm

I love new ideas and I love automation for just such things. For example I absolutely love online/mobile phone or Self Service checkins.

However I also like to know that there is someone nearby to phsycially talk to face to face should something go wrong or should I have a query and not some premium phone line to I can be connected to an agent thousands of miles away in some dank call center.

Automating boarding is an obvious move and Im amazed its taken so long to implement considering it is something less complicated then check in and sure its been automated for some years now. But I would be very concerned if at least one gate agent was not present, from a security perspective but also from a basic customer service perspective.

Also the more ground staff you remove due to automation, the fewer ground staff there will be available on the day should situations occur such as weather/security alerts/general cancellations etc meaning service recovery will become an even lesser priority and even more highly strung ground staff freaking out from the sheer number of irate customers screaming at them for something which is not really their fault!
My views are my own and do not reflect any other person or organisation.
 
catiii
Posts: 2391
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:18 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:55 pm

For an airline who has based an ad campaign as "all airlines are equal, but it's the Delta people who differentiate us" they sure do everything they can to minimize any interaction with their employees. Additionally, will they be passing any of the savings from the efficiencies on to us, the customer?

Quoting fxramper (Thread starter):
Charging passengers a fee to exit the plane first

I didn't see that in the article. Is that something they're doing as well?
 
KDAYflyer
Posts: 152
Joined: Fri Jun 08, 2012 1:37 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 7:56 pm

This may not be the brightest move an airline has considered. I agree with the above post that at least 1 person in the gate area for unexpected problems is needed.
 
User avatar
KaiGywer
Crew
Posts: 11182
Joined: Sun Oct 26, 2003 9:59 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:00 pm

Quoting catiii (Reply 2):
I didn't see that in the article. Is that something they're doing as well?

My guess is that it's a snide remark in reference to Economy Comfort seating towards the front of the plane.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, an
 
FlyPNS1
Posts: 5271
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 1999 7:12 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:02 pm

Quoting KDAYflyer (Reply 3):
This may not be the brightest move an airline has considered. I agree with the above post that at least 1 person in the gate area for unexpected problems is needed.

And that's why this idea won't really save the airlines much. With U.S. carriers, most only use one gate agent to do boarding for narrowbody and RJ's. You really can't eliminate that person as there are constant problems with people's boarding passes. I've rarely seen a flight where there weren't at least a handful of people's whose boarding passes would not scan...requiring agent to do additional work. Plus you have people who don't really have a boarding pass, but try to use it as one anyway.
 
Cubsrule
Posts: 11419
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 12:13 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:05 pm

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 5):
And that's why this idea won't really save the airlines much. With U.S. carriers, most only use one gate agent to do boarding for narrowbody and RJ's.

But consider what WN does at many stations: 3 agents for 2 gates. One agent staffs each gate, and the third handles a podium in the middle for two gates. With a self boarding process that works well, they could go to 2 agents for the two gates, with both agents at the podium. That's a third fewer agents but twice as many agents available for all tasks other than taking boarding passes. The problem is exactly what you have identified, though. There are too many hiccups with boarding for this to work for the foreseeable future.
I can't decide whether I miss the tulip or the bowling shoe more
 
EricR
Posts: 1223
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:15 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:11 pm

Smart move by DL to reduce costs. Train stations have been using this concept for years. There is no need to pay an individual to stand at the gate and scan boarding passes.

It is funny how changes towards more automated ways of conducting business create such controversy when in the grand scheme of things, it is no big deal (or overhyped by the media).

When ATMs became a common, people complained because of the lack of human intervention. Now ATMs are the perferred method of conducting banking needs versus the old method of standing in a bank line.
 
ghifty
Posts: 885
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:12 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:13 pm

Quoting tonystan (Reply 1):

I love new ideas and I love automation for just such things. For example I absolutely love online/mobile phone or Self Service checkins.

Automation is good for the consumer, but what about the layoffs?

Quoting KaiGywer (Reply 4):
My guess is that it's a snide remark in reference to Economy Comfort seating towards the front of the plane.

Yeah, because Y+ has absolutely no other perks.   
Fly Delta Jets
 
affirmative
Posts: 139
Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 5:22 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:17 pm

This have been used by SK on their domestic routes for years. If you have a frequent flyer card or a credit card used for your booking that will be used in lieu of the boarding pass, you slide it through and go through a turnstile where you also get your ticket showing your name and seat number. Very efficient and simple. However, it can only be used by those who haven't checked baggage. There were trials with a machine that took your fingerprint at check-in of baggage and then you had to do the same thing at the gate but I don't know how that panned out..

Cheers,
Thomas
I love the smell of Jet-A1 in the morning...
 
Someone83
Posts: 2934
Joined: Sun Sep 17, 2006 5:47 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:21 pm

Quoting affirmative (Reply 9):
This have been used by SK on their domestic routes for years. If you have a frequent flyer card or a credit card used for your booking that will be used in lieu of the boarding pass, you slide it through and go through a turnstile where you also get your ticket showing your name and seat number. Very efficient and simple. However, it can only be used by those who haven't checked baggage. There were trials with a machine that took your fingerprint at check-in of baggage and then you had to do the same thing at the gate but I don't know how that panned out..

Lufthansa has also done this for years at MUC

and you can self-board with SK even with luggage now  
 
bigjku
Posts: 870
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2007 10:51 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:23 pm

Quoting ghifty (Reply 8):
Automation is good for the consumer, but what about the layoffs?

Jobs lost to automation are jobs that have no place in the market anymore. Those people will have to find/create new jobs as part of the economic cycle that has been going on for hundreds of years now.
 
catiii
Posts: 2391
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:18 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:25 pm

Quoting EricR (Reply 7):
Smart move by DL to reduce costs. Train stations have been using this concept for years. There is no need to pay an individual to stand at the gate and scan boarding passes.

It is funny how changes towards more automated ways of conducting business create such controversy when in the grand scheme of things, it is no big deal (or overhyped by the media).

When ATMs became a common, people complained because of the lack of human intervention. Now ATMs are the perferred method of conducting banking needs versus the old method of standing in a bank line

I don't have an objection based on that. What I do have an objection to is the whole notion of DL running ads like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2Ltz8d16kE&feature=relmfu saying it comes down to the Delta people, but then trying to eliminate every opportunity to interact with those people.
 
glbltrvlr
Posts: 746
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 4:28 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:27 pm

Quoting someone83 (Reply 10):
Lufthansa has also done this for years at MUC

And I've seen these at FRA as well.
 
sunking737
Posts: 1115
Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2005 10:33 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:27 pm

I see a new reality TV show, The Gates Of Hell. Staring Self Boarding passengers getting into fist fights over who goes first.

Up next TSA robots, to shake you down. Doesn't matter if you male, female, or GLTG. Equal all around.
Just an MSPAVGEEK
 
FlyPNS1
Posts: 5271
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 1999 7:12 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:30 pm

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 6):
There are too many hiccups with boarding for this to work for the foreseeable future.

Indeed. From what I've heard, DL wasn't really thrilled with the results from this trial.

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 11):
Those people will have to find/create new jobs as part of the economic cycle that has been going on for hundreds of years now.

Maybe, but as automation has really cranked up over the past few decades, we've seen that automation eliminates jobs faster than they can be created.
 
User avatar
DocLightning
Posts: 19754
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 8:51 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:34 pm

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 5):
And that's why this idea won't really save the airlines much. With U.S. carriers, most only use one gate agent to do boarding for narrowbody and RJ's. You really can't eliminate that person as there are constant problems with people's boarding passes. I've rarely seen a flight where there weren't at least a handful of people's whose boarding passes would not scan...requiring agent to do additional work. Plus you have people who don't really have a boarding pass, but try to use it as one anyway.

And then you have little old ladies who can't figure out how to use the newfangled machine and snarl up the line. Not to mention accessibility for blind and other disabled passengers.

There needs to be one person working the gate for situations the system just can't handle.
-Doc Lightning-

"The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."
-Carl Sagan
 
burnsie28
Posts: 5035
Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2004 1:49 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:48 pm

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 15):

Indeed. From what I've heard, DL wasn't really thrilled with the results from this trial.

NW tried it at a couple stations too. Don't know if its true or not but customer feedback wasn't so hot on it.
 
FlyASAGuy2005
Posts: 3964
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:55 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:55 pm

This is actually old news.

Delta Testing Self Boarding Gates -ATL (by FlyASAGuy2005 Mar 19 2012 in Civil Aviation)

Unfortunately, the picture I took of it that was in the thread is gone because I deleted it from my profile page.

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 15):
Indeed. From what I've heard, DL wasn't really thrilled with the results from this trial.

They weren't. It's already been pulled from T05 and the concept has been shelved for now (for ATL at least).
What gets measured gets done.
 
bohica
Posts: 2303
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 3:21 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:57 pm

Quoting catiii (Reply 2):
Quoting fxramper (Thread starter):
Charging passengers a fee to exit the plane first

I didn't see that in the article. Is that something they're doing as well?

There was an article in USA Today about that idea:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/indust...-get-off-a-plane-faster/56073708/1
 
135mech
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 5:56 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:01 pm

WOW... hope it works, but there are enough "un-educted" people and "un-practiced" travellers that it will take some "getting used to".

"Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups".
135Mech
 
Mir
Posts: 19093
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 3:55 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:01 pm

Quoting EricR (Reply 7):
Train stations have been using this concept for years.

At least in the US, train tickets are checked mainly on the train, so there'd be no need for an agent to supervise getting on the train anyway. And there aren't the security concerns on trains that there are on aircraft. So the situations aren't really comparable.

Quoting sunking737 (Reply 14):
Staring Self Boarding passengers getting into fist fights over who goes first.

I can't wait until someone in Group 4 tries to board with Group 2, gets rejected by the turnstile, but still holds everyone else up as they keep trying to scan their boarding pass, insisting that they should be able to get on the plane then.   

-Mir
7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
 
User avatar
zippyjet
Posts: 5089
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2001 3:32 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:02 pm

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 6):

Actually it's two different departments. At WN, the "Operations Agent" operates the jetway, pre-boards WCHR pax while the podium person is soley customer service. Two different unions.

This is going to take getting used to as I'm with FL and this position is a "Gate Agent" under Customer Service.

And how about when the automated system goes down. Which has and will happen time and again. From a self serving standpoint, I hope this flops.
I'm Zippyjet & I approve of this message!
 
FlyASAGuy2005
Posts: 3964
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:55 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:04 pm

Quoting EricR (Reply 7):
Smart move by DL to reduce costs. Train stations have been using this concept for years. There is no need to pay an individual to stand at the gate and scan boarding passes.

In all fairness to the agents, they're doing A LOT more than just "scanning boarding passes". I'd love to see you do what thay have to do for just one 8.5 hour shift  
Quoting catiii (Reply 12):

I don't have an objection based on that. What I do have an objection to is the whole notion of DL running ads like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2Ltz8d16kE&feature=relmfu saying it comes down to the Delta people, but then trying to eliminate every opportunity to interact with those people.

Let's be realistic here. Marketing is all fine and dandy and as a DL emplopyee, I really think that they mean it, but there's a delicate balance here between your 'folks' and technology and keeping up with it. We're nowhere near being totally ran by robots so let's take a breather  
What gets measured gets done.
 
135mech
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 5:56 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:09 pm

Quoting sunking737 (Reply 14):
I see a new reality TV show, The Gates Of Hell. Staring Self Boarding passengers getting into fist fights over who goes first.

Up next TSA robots, to shake you down. Doesn't matter if you male, female, or GLTG. Equal all around.

HAHAHAHA!!! You can picture it now!
135Mech
 
BC77008
Posts: 344
Joined: Tue Sep 06, 2011 11:48 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:11 pm

I just hope that at self-boarding gates that if a passenger tries to sneak by whose row has not been called that the machine makes a loud buzz sound and the turnstyle does not move to let the passenger through.
"He waited his whole damn life to take that flight. And as the plane crashed down he thought 'Well isn't this nice...'"
 
tonystan
Posts: 1265
Joined: Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:39 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:29 pm

Quoting ghifty (Reply 8):

Automation is good for the consumer, but what about the layoffs?

I agree that the human cost could be high. And I am also concerned that the actual customer service level will be reduced in this case. Automatic check in brought benefits to the customer, it allowed the customer to avoid queus, get a boarding pass quickly and easily and give them more control over the choice of their seat etc.

But what benefits will this bring? No one to speak to when you have a query, a longer queue to board cos too many passengers will no doubt have no idea what they are doing (ever seen some people using those self service checkouts in supermarkets....nightmare!) etc. The only person that benefits here is the airline with reduced employee costs! I do not see this as providing value to the customer at all!
My views are my own and do not reflect any other person or organisation.
 
EricR
Posts: 1223
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:15 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:40 pm

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 23):
In all fairness to the agents, they're doing A LOT more than just "scanning boarding passes". I'd love to see you do what thay have to do for just one 8.5 hour shift


I was not referring to the total responsibilities of the gate agent, but the specific task of scanning the boarding pass. One centralized customer service station at every X number of gates to support or accommodate any issues.

Quoting Mir (Reply 21):
At least in the US, train tickets are checked mainly on the train, so there'd be no need for an agent to supervise getting on the train anyway.


Sorry, I wasn't clear. I was referring more to the mass transit (subway) type systems.

Quoting Mir (Reply 21):
And there aren't the security concerns on trains that there are on aircraft.


This issue should be largely addressed at the security checkpoint, not by the gate agent.
 
slvrblt
Posts: 272
Joined: Tue Dec 28, 2004 11:19 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:55 pm

Quoting tonystan (Reply 1):
Also the more ground staff you remove due to automation, the fewer ground staff there will be available on the day should situations occur such as weather/security alerts/general cancellations etc meaning service recovery will become an even lesser priority and even more highly strung ground staff freaking out from the sheer number of irate customers screaming at them for something which is not really their fault!

B - I - N - G - O.

Automation is all well and good, and not completely bad actually. But these geniuses that sit in remote HQ offices and dream up stuff like this, that think automation is the SOLUTION, just amaze me.
You automation gurus that have never worked in real-life airport off-schedule situations, with real passengers.... you need a reality check. Now, if that's any of you, dear forum readers, come try it - just once. Step up to that podium of that cancelled flight and say, ''may I help the next person?'' Get ready, because it's not for the faint of heart.

It a nice idea, only if :
** planes don't break at the last minute, requiring you to deplane 300+ pax from a widebody already loaded up.

** weather doesn't come roaring into a 500-flight a day hub, play merry hell with delays/cancellations, snarling things
for hours or even days.

** you don't have massive ATC delays causing heavy delays, misconnections, and cancellations......and
innumerable other real-life situations I could easily come up with. Things that you need REAL PEOPLE to help
with.

Case in point, not too long ago in MIA, heavy thunderstorms with severe weather warnings came rolling thru in late morning/early afternoon, diverting dozens of flights to places OTHER than MIA. Then, once the diverted flights got back to MIA, with all those missed connections, there came MORE storms, more gate holds/delays/diversions. By that time, here come the cancellations - because everything now everything is so screwed up and late, you've got to thin things out to be able to function the next day.

The terminal went from a relatively quiet place to gridlock, with probably 3500+ upset and stranded folks milling everywhere. If you don't have staff available to recover from stuff like that, it doesn't matter how many machines you have out there - people want SOMEONE to talk with, because they want to hear options, they want to hear suggestions, they all have ''special'' situations to tell you about , and they want all want to vent.
..everything works out in the end.
 
gabrielchew
Posts: 3720
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:43 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:04 pm

A few times I've seen chaos at the gates in MUC and FRA with LH. Priority boarding is ignored, and everyone just pushes and shoves to get to the front....awful.
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LGW-OPO-LGW,LHR-FCO-CTA-LIN-LCY,LHR-AMS-GRQ-SEN,LTN-CPH-LHR-ORD
 
User avatar
fxramper
Topic Author
Posts: 5837
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 12:03 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:43 pm

Quoting tonystan (Reply 1):

Proof in the pudding is the disgusting look on a gate agents face when the next generation approaches the gate with a mobile boarding pass and the flip out.

Get rid of the gate agent, keep customer service spots around gates, shrink the work force, increase profit, and make the flyer happier.
 
ghifty
Posts: 885
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:12 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 10:47 pm

Quoting tonystan (Reply 26):
But what benefits will this bring? No one to speak to when you have a query, a longer queue to board cos too many passengers will no doubt have no idea what they are doing (ever seen some people using those self service checkouts in supermarkets....nightmare!) etc. The only person that benefits here is the airline with reduced employee costs! I do not see this as providing value to the customer at all!

Yes, 100% automation would be a disaster. My grandma has "issues," shall we say, with the Barcelona Metro's automated gates..

BUT, I highly doubt DL is going for 100% automation. They'll probably have an auxiliary staff assigned to monitor a certain group of gates. The Home Depot and Fresh&Easy have self-service checkout kiosks.. whenever someone has an issue, the problem is resolved quite quickly.

Quoting FlyPNS1 (Reply 15):
Maybe, but as automation has really cranked up over the past few decades, we've seen that automation eliminates jobs faster than they can be created.

That was my point. A LOT of blue collar jobs could be fully automated, flipping and selling burgers, renting movies (already happened), cleaning pools (already happened), car washes, etc.. where are those people supposed to go when a machine takes over their job? A white collar position? That's ideal, sure.. but ideal situations don't always happen.
Fly Delta Jets
 
User avatar
par13del
Posts: 6678
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 9:14 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:01 pm

Quoting catiii (Reply 2):
Additionally, will they be passing any of the savings from the efficiencies on to us, the customer?

Made my day with that question, good one  
Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):

There needs to be one person working the gate for situations the system just can't handle.

Bean counter answer: Based on the numbers this happens 1 in every 500 pax and since we have no a/c with 500 seats
the majority of flight will operate without any problem.

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 22):
And how about when the automated system goes down.
Quoting slvrblt (Reply 28):
The terminal went from a relatively quiet place to gridlock, with probably 3500+ upset and stranded folks milling everywhere. If you don't have staff available to recover from stuff like that, it doesn't matter how many machines you have out there - people want SOMEONE to talk with, because they want to hear options, they want to hear suggestions, they all have ''special'' situations to tell you about , and they want all want to vent.

The point of automation is to remove the staff who usually provide bad and inaccurate information and cost too much money to train, hence the mantra that the customer is always right, teach them that only and put hem on the job.
Folks will soon realize that its pretty silly to argue with a computer screen flashing delayed / cancelled.
In our upward mobile environment the tech savy pax will gravitate to DL and the other low fare low yield pax will go elsewhere.
Disclaimer: Entire post in jest, some things are not broken and do not require fixing.
 
FlyASAGuy2005
Posts: 3964
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:55 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:02 pm

Quoting EricR (Reply 27):
I was not referring to the total responsibilities of the gate agent, but the specific task of scanning the boarding pass. One centralized customer service station at every X number of gates to support or accommodate any issues.

That is a clever way to deal with it and LAS would actually be ripe and they do this already to an extent for those that's seen DL's gate set-up there. There's a huge podium towards the end of D where DL/AA is and that position is usually manned by about 4 agents and all that's being done at the gates behind is getting the folks on. JFK is also like this but ATL is so cramped I really don't see how it would work. As it is, they save a lot on the A/B/C/D concourses with the one gate agent per gate concept. T/E/F still seems to have more "rovers".

With that being said, I still don't see the savings. You add more agents to deal with issues but as it is they're getting everything done with one.

With all that being said, the test was done months ago and they didn't like the results. The station has already been returned to the manufacturer.
What gets measured gets done.
 
aznmadsci
Posts: 1643
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:02 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:50 pm

sCO had trialled a self-boarding gate before and after its merger. It was the E4 gate at IAH and I got to use it once for a flight to LHR last year. Yet this year they removed it. A couple of agent friends who would work that gate said it was more of a problem for them and would have to direct passengers to the agents since the machines would not properly read the barcodes.
The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
 
railker
Posts: 46
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:06 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:51 pm

I didn't see it mentioned and I don't know how often it is an issue, but one of the jobs of the Gate Agents is to make sure that Passenger X hasn't been drinking at the bar since he cleared security and proceeds to board the plane and wait until cruise to pick a fight with passengers A though W.

To quote from WestJet's website, just for the sake of quoting the reg,

Quote:
Canadian Aviation Regulations prohibit us from allowing a guest to board our aircraft when there are reasonable grounds to believe the person's faculties are impaired by alcohol or a drug to the extent where they may present a hazard to the aircraft or to guests on board the aircraft.


I won't even comment on all the derpy people who will have trouble doing so much as scanning a barcode.

((And don't IDs need to be checked?))

[Edited 2012-07-10 16:54:36]
 
TecumsehSherman
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:16 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:00 am

Quoting EricR (Reply 7):
It is funny how changes towards more automated ways of conducting business create such controversy when in the grand scheme of things, it is no big deal (or overhyped by the media).

It is if you're the employee losing a livelihood to the machine, isn't it? Since you're obviously not one of those, I can see your indifference.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 16):

There needs to be one person working the gate for situations the system just can't handle.

There needs to be someone closing the jetway door, the cabin door, and run the jetway to meet and dispatch aircraft. So agents aren't going anywhere quite yet.

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 23):
In all fairness to the agents, they're doing A LOT more than just "scanning boarding passes". I'd love to see you do what thay have to do for just one 8.5 hour shift

When things are going well in the ops, it's an easy job-just as most jobs are easy when things are running, but when the caca hits it, you do need customer service agents around for rerouting customers and bags; for handling special needs customers; for keeping people informed. It sounds nice in theory, but there are a lot of inconveniences that would go along with total automation. It would me LESS customer service. And this at a time when people, rightly, are demanding MORE customer service.

Quoting fxramper (Reply 30):
Get rid of the gate agent, keep customer service spots around gates, shrink the work force, increase profit, and make the flyer happier.

Are you going to be "happier" when the aircraft is broken, or the weather goes south, and you don't have a human being to talk to in order to get yourself to your destination? I have a feeling the people who cheer loudest for this automation will be the first ones to complain when something goes wrong, and they have no one to scream at.

Face it, not many people have a lot of sympathy for Customer Service Agents at an airline. They're frowned upon, derided and cursed at all to often. Sometime with justification, most time with no justification. But I wager that they'd get a little more respect if the system went semi- or fully-automated.

There is a place for people for the foreseeable future in the business. Even if we ever cam up with beaming technology to get customers on board a plane, ala Star Trek, you still need someone to run the machine.
 
September11
Posts: 3293
Joined: Fri May 21, 2004 12:49 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:23 am

Quoting TecumsehSherman (Reply 36):

There needs to be someone closing the jetway door, the cabin door, and run the jetway to meet and dispatch aircraft. So agents aren't going anywhere quite yet.

----------

don't forget unaccompanied minors ...
Airliners.net of the Future
 
EricR
Posts: 1223
Joined: Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:15 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:32 am

Quoting TecumsehSherman (Reply 36):
Quoting EricR (Reply 7):
It is funny how changes towards more automated ways of conducting business create such controversy when in the grand scheme of things, it is no big deal (or overhyped by the media).

It is if you're the employee losing a livelihood to the machine, isn't it? Since you're obviously not one of those, I can see your indifference.

Obviously you are only thinking about the few rather than the entire company as a whole. I would rather eliminate x number of jobs for the sake of keeping an airline profitable, competitive, and out of liquidation rather than keeping every possible job and sinking the entire ship.

If you were the owner and had to keep your company afloat, you too would be looking at ways to reduce costs including eliminating jobs where possible.
 
gizmonc
Posts: 243
Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 3:51 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:00 am

Quoting Cubsrule (Reply 6):
But consider what WN does at many stations: 3 agents for 2 gates

The WN agents at the boarding door are not customer service agents, They are ops agents and they do the weight and balance. WN does boarding different than any other carrier. That agent in the middle as you spoke of does boarding passes, special requests and such. The agent at the boarding door , Checks in passengers only, He/she is responsible for weight and balance for the flight. Once the ramp agents load the luggage and cargo that is passed up to the ops agent. Even the fueler sends his fuel slip to the ops agent, it is this person that enters all the info into the weight and balance computer and gives a load sheet to the capt/fo . Weight has to be calculated and with all this heat we have had in the midwest loading some of these 300 and 500 series aircrafts has been a real problem. Not something that will go automated anytime soon at SWA. The ramp is not even scanning bags as of yet.
 
TecumsehSherman
Posts: 56
Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 9:16 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:05 am

Quoting September11 (Reply 37):

don't forget unaccompanied minors ...

I mentioned that when I mentioned Special Needs customers.

Quoting EricR (Reply 38):

If you were the owner and had to keep your company afloat, you too would be looking at ways to reduce costs including eliminating jobs where possible.

I'm not the owner, so I have to think of my butt first, don't I?

And if you have to cut staff to remain profitable, you're probably not going to be profitable anyway. Unfortunately, in the U.S. especially, corporations don't look any further, in most cases, than a year or two down the road. They don't look at a broader picture.

A good example is outsourcing customer service call centers overseas, which many companies have tried. Quite a few of those companies thought it would save them money, but, in the end, for many of those companies, the engendered such negative customer feedback that they lost money, and, more importantly, lost customers.

So cutting staff may look good on paper, for a year or so, but in the end, in a customer service-driven industry like airlines, such short-sightedness could, in the end, cost you money and customers.
 
User avatar
par13del
Posts: 6678
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 9:14 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:14 am

Ok a serious solution, let the gate area mimick the ground handling operations. At a number of airports there are ground handling companies who cater to a number of airlines, it allows them to right size staff to fit all airport operations, full staff at peak hours minimal staff during the slow periods.
Airlines would turn over gate operations (boarding) to one or two companies serving all the airlines, staff would obviously work harder as they would be going from gate to gate down time would be minimal but efficiency would go up.
Airlines would save money in out-sourcing, a new business venture would be available for an investor, the majority of the staff no longer needed by the airline could be re-employed and the airlines would save money while not inconveniencing the pax too much.
Airlines already have customer service desk before security, all they would have to do is to make a desk available after security which does not have to be manned at all times, only when trouble erupts with a ticket re-route or some such which requires someone with full access to the airlines routes and pricing.
 
david21487
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 10:35 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:23 am

Quoting TecumsehSherman (Reply 36):
There needs to be someone closing the jetway door, the cabin door, and run the jetway to meet and dispatch aircraft. So agents aren't going anywhere quite yet.
Quoting TecumsehSherman (Reply 36):
There is a place for people for the foreseeable future in the business.

I agree.

A lot of people seem to be imagining a completely agent-less gate area, and I'm not exactly sure why. Online check-in and kiosks haven't made for unmanned check-in desks.

It's always been my experience that gate agents working mainline flights in ATL are generally only by themselves until boarding begins. Then someone usually shows up to assist. The way I'm understanding this is that the role of the automated boarding machine is to take away the need for that assist agent, or in the event that there does happen to only be one person there, alleviate some of the stressful multitasking that they have to do so that they can concentrate on the customers lined up in front of them. That's all I see this being.

This was tested for the same reason that GIDS and the automated announcements were implemented - to ease the already stressful workload of the gate agent - not to make them completely disappear.
-- Step! Jump! Slide! --
 
irelayer
Posts: 929
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2005 4:34 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:41 am

Quoting catiii (Reply 2):
For an airline who has based an ad campaign as "all airlines are equal, but it's the Delta people who differentiate us" they sure do everything they can to minimize any interaction with their employees. Additionally, will they be passing any of the savings from the efficiencies on to us, the customer?

I would think Delta and all the others are struggling just to make a consistent narrow profit. I don't think there are any real "savings" to pass on. IE they have already passed them on to us, but still bear the cost.

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 11):
Jobs lost to automation are jobs that have no place in the market anymore. Those people will have to find/create new jobs as part of the economic cycle that has been going on for hundreds of years now.

Exactly. We don't have elevator operators anymore, or toll booth attendants...or a million other menial jobs.

-IR
 
NorthstarBoy
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Jun 07, 2005 12:53 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:51 am

My gut reaction to this kind of scheme is "revenue protection." As in Elites may have been complaining that the gate agents are giving away preferred seats to non-preferred passengers which in turn fills up the front part of the plane because by nature people want to sit as far forward as they can and the don't want to have to pay extra for that aisle or window seat at the front. The airlines have already stripped res and ticket agents of the ability to allocate preferred seats to non-preferred passengers for free, now they want to extend that "stop-loss" to the gate by automating the boarding process.

As others have said, in most situations automated boarding will go smoothly because the turnstiles will be programmed to allow passengers to board in a certain order. If the wrong person tries to board at the wrong time the gates simply wont open and eventually the person will have to give up and wait their turn. With technology the way it is, i can even see a scenario where the computer announces boarding.

The important thing from the perspective of the bean counters and some overly status obsessed elites who think their sh*t smells like honey and roses, is that the gate agent wont be able to override the computer when it comes to allocating seats or determining boarding priority. So, what automation does is eliminate inconsistency in the boarding process because the computer can be programmed to allow First class to board first, then diamond, platinum, gold, silver, then everyone else. As I said earlier, the system can be programmed to announce "First class only please, all other passengers remain seated." Eventually when someone has tried over and over again to board before their turn has come up and the system consistently refuses to allow it, they'll stop trying.

As for passengers with special needs, they'll simply register their special needs status at the time the reservation is booked, it will flag in the system, and those passengers will be handled during the general boarding process. Probably after first class and elites but before everyone else.

Finally, I'll go one step further and suggest that as technology continues to advance, there will be a day when we wont need gate agents during irrops either because the system will automatically rebook passengers based on status, with the most elite passengers having the first chance to get on the next available flight. Ops agents will sit in a room somewhere and monitor the situation, rebooking passengers who weren't able to be rebooked by the system and programming the system to make the appropriate announcements, such as, "Attention in the gate area, flight 123 has been canceled. Please contact the Customer Service Kiosk to recieve your flight reassignment. If you need any further assistance please contact the Customer Service Kiosk or contact our global customer service 800 number."

Do I like it? not necessarily, but I do think this is the direction our legacy carriers are heading.
Yes, I'd like to see airbus go under so Boeing can have their customers!
 
einsteinboricua
Posts: 4665
Joined: Thu Apr 15, 2010 4:11 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:59 am

It only takes a visit to the Facebook pages of the airlines to see the many complaints customers have when traveling: imagine if every airline went automated?

Quoting tonystan (Reply 26):
The only person that benefits here is the airline with reduced employee costs! I do not see this as providing value to the customer at all!

Indeed. And as asked earlier, will the airline pass some of the savings to us, the customer? Perhaps lower bag fees? What I see is an attempt like the banks tried to do earlier this year: fees everywhere to try and recover (and surpass) lost revenue, and even if business is good, I doubt the fees would go away.

We saw oil drop to $30/barrel in late 2008. Did the bag fees come down? Nope. They've gone up, and oil is still hovering between the $77-$90 range, the period when airlines started imposing the bag fees.

Quoting railker (Reply 35):
((And don't IDs need to be checked?))

At least in the US, once you pass security, unless you're in an international flight, the ID is no longer needed. At least, that's my experience.

Quoting EricR (Reply 38):
Obviously you are only thinking about the few rather than the entire company as a whole. I would rather eliminate x number of jobs for the sake of keeping an airline profitable, competitive, and out of liquidation rather than keeping every possible job and sinking the entire ship.

i don't want to get political, but the thing is that those that favor automation think it's a good idea, until it's their job they'll lose. Then they blame the government for either creating a hostile environment (sometimes out of the control of the government) or not doing enough to boost job creation to ease a transition for laid off employees.

I think many employees would go down with the ship together than allow HQ to cut staff and replace people with robots. Besides, in the end, who's more expensive? The computer consumes electricity and needs maintenance every so often, and what if there's a failure? Would the costs in the long term favor going automated? Would the savings be significant?

I think that a good way to implement this is in airports that get reduced service from the airline. For instance, in SCE, it might work. The number of flights per day is rather low. You can save money that way. But why implement it at a fortress hub like ATL where it's just going to spell trouble?
"You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky."
 
boeingorbust
Posts: 164
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 3:44 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:18 am

How about when they need bag pulls, or info on flight entered into database by the agent? What about when a boarding pass wont scan properly (this has happened to me many times and the agent has to play around with the computer)...
 
FlyASAGuy2005
Posts: 3964
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2007 4:55 am

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:31 am

Quoting einsteinboricua (Reply 45):
We saw oil drop to $30/barrel in late 2008. Did the bag fees come down? Nope. They've gone up, and oil is still hovering between the $77-$90 range, the period when airlines started imposing the bag fees.

What planet were you on that oil dropped to $30 per???? Oil saw a low of about $70 briefly around this time but it didn't go down to 30...
What gets measured gets done.
 
Transpac787
Posts: 1349
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2007 12:47 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:59 am

Quoting FlyASAGuy2005 (Reply 47):
What planet were you on that oil dropped to $30 per???? Oil saw a low of about $70 briefly around this time but it didn't go down to 30...


http://www.post1.net/lowem/entry/nym...mbpd_opec_production_cut_announced
 
Unflug
Posts: 697
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:25 pm

RE: Goodbye Gate Agent, Hello Self Boarding.

Wed Jul 11, 2012 9:50 am

Quoting tonystan (Reply 26):
I agree that the human cost could be high. And I am also concerned that the actual customer service level will be reduced in this case. Automatic check in brought benefits to the customer, it allowed the customer to avoid queus, get a boarding pass quickly and easily and give them more control over the choice of their seat etc.

But what benefits will this bring? No one to speak to when you have a query, a longer queue to board cos too many passengers will no doubt have no idea what they are doing (ever seen some people using those self service checkouts in supermarkets....nightmare!) etc. The only person that benefits here is the airline with reduced employee costs! I do not see this as providing value to the customer at all!

It has been mentioned above that Lufthansa has been doing this for years. The thread title is very misleading, this move does not mean "Goodbye Gate Agent". Of course (isn't that obvious?) the gate agents are still there for various tasks - including scanning boarding passes for people having whatever problem with the automatic boarding.

Customer service level actually increases. Boarding is faster and the gate agents have more time to take care of people needing assistance.