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Air New Zealand improving flight experience

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 28-OCT-2008 14:02

I was invited by Air New Zealand to attend a press event in Auckland where they showed their vision of an update airport check-in area, with self-service kiosks, bag drops, electronic boading passes and more. This also involve some changes to their Airpoints program.

In the check-in front they are introducing some cool stuff such as mPass, a J2ME application that runs on most modern mobile phones. You will be able to downlod all boarding passes related to your Airpoints account, or individual boarding passes based on booking reference and name. The application show this information on a 2D barcode that you can use to scan directy from your phone and board the aircraft.

Also new is the RFID tag, a sticker that will be sent to Airpoints Gold Elite, Gold and Silver members. You can attach that to the back of your mobile phone, or wallet and use it to board directly - unless you have to get a bag tag.

At last a full self-service boarding experience, including new special bag tags printed directly at the kiosk, incuding a Priority label if you are entitled to it.

And speaking of kiosks and airports, the main centres will have a new area for check-in - look the artist's idea and the picture I took at the Auckland airport this morning.

If you are a Airpoints member you will be happy to know ALL flights now count towards your points. Even the cheap ones. And the company is introducing, a website full of widget goodness for the frequent traveller.

Check the pictures I took during the event in their training area:

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Comment by lapimate, on 28-OCT-2008 15:48

".... The application show this information on a 2D barcode that you can use to scan directy from your phone and board the aircraft. ..."

There is already a 2-D barcode top-right on my e-ticket (under the Booking Reference). Is that the same?

Comment by brentbart, on 28-OCT-2008 15:55

Looks like a great idea. I think me dear old mum might struggle the first time but I was in the Wgtn airport Thursday morning for a flight and Air NZ had a person there showing people how to use the express check-in service.

I think the sticker is a wonderful idea too for the Gold/Silver etc airpoints members. Plus all flights being airpoints will be a blessing.

Comment by Julia Raue, on 28-OCT-2008 16:13

Hi Lapimate

Yes, the barcode on your ET receipt, and on the mPass (mobile application) is the same. The benefit of the mPass is that you no longer require a hard copy of your ET receipt at the airport. Along with the ePass, all provide the customer with more flexibility and choice around which medium they choose to check in and board the aircraft.

For a more detailed and visual view, see

Comment by chiefie, on 28-OCT-2008 17:11

How well can the barcode scanner scan? Any screen resolution would do? I'd presume smaller screen would have difficulty with resolution/details of the barcode, won't it?

Also (way OT)... is Auckland International Airport going to have a unified airport terminal? or it's still gonna be a hassle to transfer from domestic to international (and vice-versa)??

Comment by lapimate, on 28-OCT-2008 18:12

Thank you Julia.

I see the barcode on "my e-ticket" appears to be PDF417 format.

Here is the URL for the IATA standard for Bar Coded Boarding Pass: 
2.1.1 & 2.1.2 are of particular interest. Seems a different barcode format is used for "printed" [PDF417] v "mobile" [Aztec, Datamatrix or QR]. Haven't found info. which of the latter will be used for mpass.

Author's note by freitasm, on 29-OCT-2008 08:54

@lapimate - the mPass uses a QR code.

Comment by lapimate, on 30-OCT-2008 17:38

Thanks Mauricio. Notice one still has to print & carry one's paper e-Ticket! See
Even IRD accepts electronic records these days :-) I wonder if carrying mobile 'phone + BT printer would be OK?

Comment by rabidgremlin, on 31-OCT-2008 19:24

@lapimate - The mPass barcode is actually an Aztec code :)

If you want to try it out visit on your mobile phone.

Comment by lapimate, on 31-OCT-2008 20:12

Yes! Thank you rabidgremlin. On my WM Std 6 BenQ E72, mPass has no expicit shortcut entry in the Start menu, only Start>Extras>Java>mPass.

Comment by rabidgremlin, on 31-OCT-2008 20:19

@lapimate - Unfortunately since WM devices don't run J2ME (Java) applications natively, I don't think you can create a shortcut in your start menu :(

You will always need to open your Java manager. Maybe there is an option in the Java manager to create a shortcut ?

Other then the painful navigation, how did the app run for you ?

Comment by lapimate, on 31-OCT-2008 21:07

I'm not too worried about the shortcut (though the old Google maps mobile seemed to manage it - wasn't that Java?). Can't yet see anything in Java manager to create a shortcut, but one might be able to fiddle the start menu.

However although mPass seemed to run OK, and produced the flight details and Aztec code boarding pass there is no seat number displayed in human-readable form! Does that get "announced" at the boarding console?

Comment by rabidgremlin, on 1-NOV-2008 06:33

@lapimate - When you scan your barcode at the gate you will get a slip of paper with your seat number on it.

If you want to pick your seats you can do that at the kiosk or even better ahead of time by going to and choosing "seat request" (lower left side of the home page).

Comment by lapimate, on 1-NOV-2008 14:05

rabidgremlin said: "... If you want to pick your seats you can do that ... ahead of time ..."

I had already selected seats online, which is why I was surprised mPass didn't display them.

Well at least this counters the rumour that no seat numbers were required because after the election Air NZ were intending to remove all seats to improve fuel economy and eliminate complaints about legroom.

rabidgremlin said: "...When you scan your barcode at the gate you will get a slip of paper with your seat number on it..."

Really! So mPass is NOT a "Boarding Pass" but merely a copy of the eTicket details. So there is no paper eliminated whatsoever and in fact just greater inconvenience caused:
1. it is compulsory to print & carry a paper copy of the eTicket anyway, and then at the gate print a paper copy of seat number and hold up other passengers while the printer buzzes away
2. mPass does not contain seat numbers, so no convenient reference on one's 'phone to remind one that (which) seat numbers have been pre-selected
3. the online "seat request" system already offers a Boarding Pass (complete with Seat Number!)

Julie Raue said above " no longer require a hard copy of your ET receipt at the airport...". That appears contrary to Air NZ's own web-site statement "...New Zealand Aviation Security regulations do require you to carry your eTicket too..."

mPass seems an elaborate system with added costs, to achieve nothing useful.

Author's note by freitasm, on 1-NOV-2008 15:18

Hmmm. I got my Gold Elite update pack today - with the mPass RFID sticker and more information.

Most importantly, some of the services we used to buy with Airpoints Dollars are now getting more expensive. For example the Special Business Fare for Gold and Gold Elite members is having an increase of almost 60%.

They also say there will be an increase in the number of Airpoints Dollars needed to purchase upgrades, but I can't see the numbers anywhere yet.

On the bright side every flight now counts towards status.

Comment by rabidgremlin, on 1-NOV-2008 17:27

oh so negative lapimate !

Unfortunately NZ aviation security & legal requirements get in the way of going fully electronic, in effect security needs to see some evidence that you are traveling and you need a piece of paper to board the plane.

If you use mPass you will not need your eTicket to clear security as the details are on the phone screen (99% sure this is correct) and when you go through the gate you will get a small slip of paper which entitles you to board the plane.

I believe you do need your eTicket if you are using your ePass (RFID tag) because security will want to eyeball something :)

As for the printer slowing things down, the printers fill 220mm of paper a second (or 792m/hr if I get my maths right) so no issues there ;)

So with mPass you can get down to 1 piece of paper:

1) If you have bags go to a kiosk, scan your mPass barcode, get tags for your bags and you will also be given boarding pass. Use your boarding pass from then on. When you scan at the gate no piece of paper will be printed. So only one piece of paper.

2) If you don't have bags, go straight to the gate, scan your mPass, get your slip of paper and board. So only one piece of paper. has all the info on it

Author's note by freitasm, on 1-NOV-2008 19:28

For anyone wondering how the mPass application looks on your mobile phone:

Comment by Julia, on 17-NOV-2008 15:57

To avoid any confusion, hopefully the following will assist re the security vs documentation question above.

If you use mPass, and have downloaded your 2d barcode boarding pass, you don't need any printed documentation to go through aviation security - they are happy with the 2d barcode boarding pass as confirmation of travel.

If you use ePass (rfid tag), aviation security want to be able to validate travel (at their request) so you can carry any form with you - be it mPass 2d barcode boarding pass, ET receipt, or kiosk boarding pass.

If you have no check-in luggage, and want to go straight to the gate with mPass or ePass, you will receive a boarding stub to indicate your seat number. If you go to the gate with a 2d boarding pass from the kiosk or documentation that you have printed post your online seat selection at home, you will not receive a stub.

Happy to answer any questions that you have - having spent several days assisting at the Kiosks, Gates and Lounges at AKL and CHC (live today) I can tell you that the customer proposition has had fantastic feedback - no queues, and hosts available to assist with self service makes the process very quick and easy.

Julia Raue, Air NZ CIO

Comment by Nick, on 1-MAR-2009 22:34

If anyone is wondering how the mPass works, it uses recent technology called Aztec code, a 2 dimensional matrix style bar code (See Above Image) that is scanned and then Interpreted as text(Possibly your Booking Reference code)by the computer software, That is then entered into the system to produce you boarding information. The Image it self is practically useless until scanned by a reader, Hence why no flight information i.e. allocated seats, is shown.

Many New cellphones can have this software downloaded and installed, all you have to do is take a picture of the code and the software on your cellphone will interpret the code into text.
E.g. - A Bus time table might have a code on the back of it, someone with this software installed on their cellphone then takes a picture of the code and they then have all the bus timetable on the cellphone to refer to at a later time.

For a demo of using these types of codes on your mobile got to :

That should explain it,
Nick Borich.



Comment by Vivienne Laming, on 20-MAY-2009 22:03

I am 55 years of age and until recently have refused to fly......Now that i have taken to the skies my fear has never been alleviated. I have a large family and it is a case of not being able to beat them so joining them. The children are now globetrotting around the world. To cut a long story short on 12 May 2009 Flight 806 from Brisbane to Christchurch was made so pleasurable by three very professional cabin crew. While Stacey Groves, Jess Craigie, and Bruce Allan never let their guard down they were absolutely lovely ...... fun and laughter, smiling courteous and truly professional accompanied us for the 3hr 25min flight. As yet I have not gone any further than Australian and Rarotonga..... but i can assure you that if I am accompanied by these generous spirited people again I will continue to and be proud of AIR NZ and so you should they were exceptional and second best is not good enough for me!! Viv Laming

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Mauricio Freitas
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I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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