Dubai-based carrier Emirates has introduced the world’s first check-in robot assistant which it calls Sara.
Emirates chose to debut the robot not at its Dubai International airport (DXB) base, but instead at its all-new City Check-in and Travel Store which it opened on Thursday.
The store is located in ICD Brookfield Place in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), close to downtown Dubai landmarks including Dubai Mall, the Burj Khalifa and Museum of the Future.
As a remote check-in centre, passengers can not only check in for flights there but also drop off their luggage as early as 24 hours and up to four hours before their flight.
Aiding passengers is Sara, the portable robotic check-in system, which can match faces with scanned passports, check passengers in, and guide them to the luggage drop area at the centre too.
The centre is open daily from 8am-10pm, and apart from Emirates agents and Sara, they can also make their way to self check-in kiosks at the centre.
Customers can also use the centre to book tickets, alter current bookings, and even purchase upgrades or add-ons such as extra baggage.
Emirates passengers with valid boarding passes will have complimentary access to select lifestyle facilities in the ICD Brookfield Place complex, and can avail of exclusive offers across a range of restaurants, gyms, and luxury stores including Josette, 1Rebel, Lulu and the Beanstalk, and Embody Fitness.
For those who want to make their way from the centre to the airport, they can do so by either using an Emirates chauffeur service, or can avail of public transport means including taxis or even access the Financial Centre Metro Station (a 10-minute walk from the centre) that will take them directly to the DXB Terminal 3 Metro station.
“Our new location is the first ultra-convenient check in and baggage drop facility conveniently located in the DIFC area. People can avoid busy periods at the airport and minimise queuing,” said Adel al Redha, Emirates’ chief operating officer.
Last year, Emirates outlined details of a US$2 billion investment in its inflight customer experience. A significant part of this is taken up by plans to upgrade cabin interiors across all classes, with retrofitted or reupholstered seats, and new panelling and flooring.
The first phase of the project which has already commenced will result in the refresh of 67 A380s. Once done, the airline will turn its focus to upgrading 53 B777s. The works will see nearly 4,000 of the airline’s new premium economy seats installed. The airline will also be refurbishing 728 first class suites, and upgrading over 5,000 business class seats to a new style and design.
Also, towards the end of last year, Emirates opened its biometric services at Terminal 3 of DXB to all international passengers. The service was previously only available for residents of the UAE and GCC nationals. The biometric recognition technologies and the GDRFA pre-populated biometric database can identify travellers at multiple points in the airport.
Facial recognition technology coupled with AI will aid their access to lounges and through the boarding and immigration processes, and will also be linked to their passport for instant identity verification. International passengers can access this service by providing official consent through the Emirates app, at Emirates self check-in kiosks, or in person at Emirates check-in desks.