Covid conscious technology trialling at Heathrow Airport

The UK’s largest Airport, Heathrow Airport, is making headway in adapting the airport to post-COVID life. They are helping to reduce the spread of the virus, by trialing innovative technology that allows travelers to drop their bags at bag drop machines without physically having make contact with check-in units.

Contactless Bag Drop

Showing bag drop unit at Heathrow Airport
Image showing a no contact Auto Bag Drop (ABD) unit at Heathrow Airport © Amadeus

The new no-contact technology, supplied by Amadeus, uses infra-red proximity sensors. This can detect passengers’ fingers as far as 3cm from the surface screen, so they effectively type in the air, allowing passengers the comfort and safety to check in their bags risk free.

Both Amadeus and Heathrow, have been trialing several contactless technologies for self-service over recent months, including ‘screen mirroring’. This allows the passenger to operate an Auto Bag Drop (ABD) unit with their own mobile device. But following extensive testing, it was decided to move forward with the proximity sensor approach.

Showing a large display of Amadeus brand lettering
Image of Amadeus logo in display © AmadeusCorporate

The equipment has initially been installed on six existing ABD’s, although Amadeus said that “Upon completion of the proximity sensor trial, all check-in kiosks and ABD units could be upgraded in a matter of weeks, so that all passengers can access contactless check-in and bag drop”.

ICM Airport Technics has supplied over 270 Auto Bag Drops to Heathrow since 2016 and is the sole supplier of self-service bag drops at the airport, with over five million bags being dropped using the technology in 2019.

Showing luggage
Image of two luggage bags © Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Heathrow’s process improvement director, Mark Burgess, said: “We’re preparing to welcome back more travelers, by looking for new and innovative technologies that will help to ensure the passenger experience remains safe and efficient in a post-COVID world”.

If all goes well, the benefits of implementing this Heathrow Airport-wide system, will not just be fruitful for our health and safety but will hopefully see faster check-in times and shorter waits.

So, what do you think of this? Is this encouraging and something you would like to see worldwide and a permanent fixture for the future? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting to us @thetravelradar. Read more about how Heathrow are dealing with post-COVID life here.




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Giselle Tadman
Giselle Tadman
Assistant Editor and Aviation Correspondent: Giselle is an experienced journalist and editor with a broad background in writing and editing in various copy. With a passion for technology, health, and education, she is building her aviation repertoire with her dedication to Travel Radar.


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