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New Zealand: Is the Future of Air Travel in Christchurch Already?

Air New Zealand Plane

The domestic flight procedures in Christchurch are almost entirely automated. You check in online, bring your boarding pass to the kiosk, and scan it. If you have no boarding pass, you can use your passport or credit card to access the information. Once the system has retrieved your information, it asks you security questions and issues a destination tag for your bag. Place the tag on the bag by peeling the back off and attaching the two circles together; they give you drawings to show how its done. You then take the bag to the bag drop off.

There are about a half dozen drop off points, and one person is in charge of all of them. In this case, he went from conveyor belt to conveyor belt making sure people were taken care of. Our bag jammed at the intersection point and crashed our computer. He retrieved the bag and restarted the check baggage computer. We put in our information scanned the bag, and off it went.

We tried to find our gate, but in the Christchurch domestic area, there is only the departure lounge. Two people run the gate check in process for 11 gates. One person is in charge of announcements and fielding questions; the other watches as people scan their boarding passes. When a flight is called, travelers scan their boarding passes, are told the gate number and sent on their way. There’s no ID check, no x-rays, and no shoe removal. It’s almost as if the airline understands it’s competing against the bus company for traveler dollars.

While these procedures have eliminated jobs and may change in the future, right now, they are convenient for the traveler. I still felt safe in the airport and on the flight. Even better, I didn’t feel grumpy because all the normal rigmarole that causes discomfort has been eliminated. Flights are simple; travel is easier. It’s the way it should be.

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