BA brings mobile boarding passes to Asia

14 Dec 2010

Streamlined check-in procedures are among the initiatives that British Airways' (BA) is planning to roll out in the Asia-Pacific in 2011. Others are joint-service agreements and increased frequencies to key Chinese cities.

BA will streamline check-in procedures, launching mobile boarding passes in Hong Kong by the first quarter of next year – the first city in Asia-Pacific to adopt the paperless check-in trend. Once introduced, passengers can check in via the BA application on their smartphones and download a barcode that should take them directly to security check. Luggage can be left at a separate drop-off.

The service is available on BA's domestic and European routes (see story here) and is now branching out to include its international network.

BA is now waiting for the Hong Kong Airport Authority to wind up installing the equipment. “The timing (of the launch) will depend on when the upgrade of the special scanners at the departure halls and gates is completed,” said Kevin McQuillan, BA regional general manager.

Users will need to be Executive Club members, as the application will also enable them to manage their bookings and check flight schedules. It will be available on most smartphones.

Following the carrier’s merger with Iberia and a joint-service model with American Airlines, BA is finalising a similar partnership with Japan Airlines (JAL). “We are on the verge of a joint service with JAL for flights between Japan and Europe,” said McQuillan. The deal, which was first proposed by BA chief executive officer Willie Walsh in November, is similar to the partnerships that BA has with Qantas and now, AA.

In addition to deepening relations with JAL, the carrier is looking to cement its position in Mainland China by increasing frequencies to Shanghai and Beijing and introducing the larger Boeing B747 aircraft on the London-Shanghai route. “Because it is hard to get time slots in China, we would rather increase capacity to the two major hubs. Putting the B747 on the London-Shanghai route is something to look at,” said McQuillan.

In November, the carrier permanently set flights to Shanghai to six times a week, which will begin in summer next year, and intends to add more between China and London. Currently, BA flies to Beijing on a seasonal basis – six times a week in winter and seven times a week in summer. “We are hoping to permanently increase frequencies to both hubs to seven flights a week or more.”

On the product front, BA's new fleet of B747 aircraft with the latest version of the first class cabin will debut in Hong Kong early next year, said McQuillan.

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Alisha Haridasani

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