British Airways is set to trial a new intelligent queuing technology to manage the flow of travellers at the airport.

The digital queuing technology from Qmatic would allow customers to virtually queue at check-in by pre-booking a slot time in advance of arriving at the airport.

The technology will be trialled by the airline for three months on selected flights from Heathrow Terminal 5, with customers invited via email to book their personalised check in time.

The Qmatic system will then notify customers when it is their turn to check-in, allowing travellers to go to the dedicated desk where the airline’s customer service team will be able to assist.

The service is optional, and customers who have not booked a slot can proceed as normal, or choose to join a virtual queue when they arrive at the airport by scanning a QR code.

British Airways will be the first airline to trial Qmatic, but the service is already used by other organisations such as BP Service Stations, the Tate Modern and the Post Office in the UK.

Declan Pollard, British Airways’ Head of Heathrow Customer Experience, commented on the trial:

“In this new Covid-19 era we know that customers have been travelling less frequently than they normally would, and in most cases not at all. We understand many people will feel unfamiliar with the airport journey, so we are committed to exploring how technology can simplify that experience for them.

“This technology means that our customers can plan their departure knowing that they have a personalised check-in time. We think this technology, coupled with digital travel apps, will help efficiently manage the flow of customers in the airport at any one time and give our customers reassurance.”

Mark Brackley, Managing Director of Jade Solutions, the exclusive supplier of Qmatic in the UK, added:

“The intelligent queuing solution will provide British Airways’ customers with the ability to add themselves to a virtual queue and see their position change in real-time, all from their phone. We are excited to be working with British Airways to trial this technology.”

Meanwhile, British Airways is trialling digital health passports such as Verifly on all flights to the US, Canada and France as well as on all UK inbound international flights. We tested out the app on a recent flight from London to Cancun in Mexico:

Review: the Verifly App

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of BA, is also assisting on the development of the IATA Travel Pass. The digital health verification app has been under development since last year, and over 20 airlines have signed up for trials in the coming weeks and months.

British Airways states that it will “continue to explore how it integrates other technologies, such as Verifly, into its systems to further streamline the customer experience”.

Customers travelling to Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal can also upload their negative Covid-19 test results and other documentation directly to the BA website for verification before travel.

Meanwhile, reports have recently revealed that travellers may face six-hour queues when international travel restarts in mid-May, with long queues at border control a result of thorough checks of arrivals’ paperwork.