Air France tests NFC boarding passes at Nice airport

Frequent flyers can use NFC phones or stickers to get an electronic boarding pass and collect loyalty points.

NICE WORK: The Riviera's frequent flyers can now board with NFC
NICE WORK: The Riviera's frequent flyers can now board with NFC

Members of Nice Airport’s passenger programme Club Airport Premier (CAP) and Air France’s frequent flyer programme travelling on the Nice-Paris Orly domestic route are piloting Pass and Fly, an NFC-based boarding pass.

The pilot project, which will run until 30 October, is designed to simplify passenger recognition and the crediting of CAP points as well as airplane boarding.

Pass and Fly is a joint innovation project started by Nice Côte d’Azur Airport and Air France, in partnership with Amadeus and IER, who supplied Air New Zealand’s smart sticker project. Amadeus developed the applications for mobile phones, departure control system and airport readers to share and display information relevant to the passenger boarding process. IER built and provided the NFC booths and readers which have been integrated into the airport’s infrastructure and connected to Air France’s passenger management system. Air France provided the electronic boarding passes.

Using Pass and Fly, travellers check in through any of the channels enabled by Air France — web, mobile phone or self-service kiosk. At the airport, the traveller needs to carry a NFC-enabled mobile phone which holds their frequent flyer information. The NFC component is either integrated in the mobile phone or on a sticker that communicates with the phone.

The traveller can then go through a fast lane access to security inspection by swiping their mobile phone past the Pass and Fly reader. The machine identifies the passenger and finds their boarding pass information. A digital boarding pass, in IATA format, is then uploaded onto the mobile phone. Nice Airport CAP frequent flyer points are automatically credited so members of the programme no longer need to go to a separate kiosk to obtain these.

At the security inspection point the traveller swipes their mobile phone across a second NFC reader which displays their boarding pass to the security staff.

Finally, at the boarding gate, the airline staff only need to check the travellers’ identification documents. An NFC reader checks the boarding pass and prints a coupon with the seat information, enabling quick boarding of the plane.

“NFC mobile boarding passes bring more efficiency to the airport traveller experience by replacing traditional desk visits with time-saving self-service options and getting rid of paper boarding passes that drive up costs,” says Nice Airport’s Agnes Henry Scalliet. “In addition, our Club Airport Premier points will be credited automatically when obtaining the boarding pass from the NFC readers.”

“This experiment will help to progressively build the ideal airport journey for our travellers of tomorrow,” added Michel Pognonec, regional director for Air France Cóte d’Azur and Monaco. “Pass and Fly is an industry first. The NFC chip and a restructured information flow speeds up the traveller’s airport journey.”

Yannick Beunardeau, director of airport solutions at Amadeus, explains that “NFC brings significant benefits over other technologies being used today in mobile travel services, and as it becomes more widely used in our daily lives, airports and airlines will be able to facilitate further services.”

“Mobile boarding passes will be widely adopted as they bring frequent flyers clear benefits: They don’t need to worry about a paper boarding card to board the airplane,” says Alexi Hernot, marketing director at IER.

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