We reported the upcoming Air France trial of NFC (Near-Field Communications) solutions for paperless ticketing last Friday. Today, Air France has been nice enough to unveil some further details of the service, including it’s name, how it works, and how it was developed.
NFC is a wireless communication technology that operates at extremely short-range… about 10 centimeters. Using this technology, Air France is running the Pass and Fly trial that will turn consumers mobile devices into machine readable boarding passes. The Air France trial is in place only on the Nice-Paris route in Nice Cote d’Azur Airport.
How does it work?
The system was developed by Amadaeus and IER. The NFC device is so small it can be attached to your phone via a small sticker. It can then communicate with the IER NFC readers that are installed in Nice Cote d’Azur Airport. Travellers participating in the trial go to a special NFC booth in the airport, and swipe their mobile device. The passengers flight information and boarding pass are then automatically uploaded to the device. NFC readers at both the security gate and flight boarding mean that the device is the only boarding pass required.
What we think?
This release is a bit more detailed than the one we got last week, but I’m no more impressed. Obviously this service has drawn a lot of comparisons to already existing 2d barcode solutions – including ones offered by Air France. My main beef with it is that passengers using “Pass and Fly” still need to queue to get their boarding pass. If you’re using a 2d barcode you can just get it sent to your phone before you ever get to the airport. Air France did address this somewhat in the release. They said “compared with 2-D barcode mobile boarding passes, NFC-enabled mobile phones can even be switched-off or out of battery when communicating with a reader.” That’s it. That’s the ONLY advantage they claim over mobile barcodes. People are mobile-savvy enough these days that running out of juice is a rare enough occurrence. This just seems like weak sauce. I’d be surprised if this service sees much use beyond this pilot.