Qantas frequent flyers get microchip cards, heralding new era in faster travel

In a world's first for the air industry, Australian flag carrier Qantas will permit their domestic frequent flyers to check in themselves and their bags with just the use of their membership card.

Qantas announced their "Airport of the Future" initiative on November 11, which will begin in Perth before expanding to cities which are part of their CityFlyer network: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra.

The program is expected to halve waiting times as Qantas Silver and Platinum Frequent Flyer card holders will receive new cards and luggage tags that contain a microchip embedded with passenger details.

Users will simply swipe the new smartcard, which functions as their boarding pass, and deposit their tagged bags at a dedicated, simplified drop station. For these users, printed cards, luggage stickers and check-in waits will be a thing of the past, but airport security checks will remain in place.

The system, developed with IBM, will begin by the middle of next year.

The company known as "The Flying Kangaroo" also stated that it aims to expedite check-in procedures for frequent flyer members below Silver status and for all other passengers, via more hosted kiosks and rapid bag drops.

Qantas is the second-oldest airline in the world, has its main hub in Sydney and was voted the sixth-best airline in the 2009 global rankings of Skytrax, an influential air industry research consultancy firm.

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