Etihad Trials New Kiosks Checking Passenger Health– Is This The Future?

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Etihad Airways is testing out a new kiosk that can help detect if passengers have symptoms of a viral illness. This kiosk will roll out for testing starting at the end of this month and will run through May using both volunteers and actual departing passengers. Could this be the future of airport check-ins?

etihad plane getty images
Etihad is testing out a new kiosk that can check a passenger’s health. Photo: Getty Images

The kiosk

In partnership with Elenium Automation of Australia, Etihad Airways is testing out self-check-in kiosks that can identify symptoms of a viral illness. The kiosk, according to Etihad, can monitor a passenger’s temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate. This technology can work not just at check-in kiosks, but also baggage drops, immigration counters, or security checkpoints.

Kiosks
The technology can monitor a passenger for early symptoms of a viral illness. Photo: Etihad

If the system detects a passenger may have a fever or any other symptoms in accordance with the system’s parameters, the technology is designed to suspend the process. After that, either through a teleconference or alert to a qualified staff member, passengers receive additional assessments and management as needed.

But, that is not all. Amazon Web Services worked with Elenium to create a hands-free technology. This allows passengers to use these self-service kiosks through voice. Thus, the system also minimizes touchpoints and the potential for infection transmission.

The initial testing will be conducted out of Abu Dhabi starting at the end of April and running through May. At first, it will be reserved for a range of volunteers before, once flights resume, bringing departing passengers into the texting mix.

Etihad will roll out the technology for departing passengers in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports

Is this the future of travel?

The airline industry will undergo some major changes as a result of the current situation. Personal space, passenger health, and minimizing the risk of infection will likely lead airlines to make a number of updates. Already, much of travel is starting to be digitized, such as electronic passport control, self-bag-drops, self-check-in kiosks, and biometric boarding.

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Other airlines like Delta are already deploying biometric processes. Photo: Delta Air Lines

While some may have concerns about personal privacy, this is the general trend that the travel industry is moving towards. Reducing the number of touchpoints minimizes the risk of cross contamination. And, going forward, it is likely that more passengers are going to be wary about what they touch before they fly.

Already, more airports and airlines are using biometrics to board and screen passengers. Photo: Delta Air Lines

Checking passengers for health concerns is a new addition to this technology. According to Elenium, the technology can be embedded within existing kiosks. With this in mind, it would not be terribly surprising to see other airlines add this technology into existing systems. For airlines and passengers alike, it would reduce concerns about transporting passengers who are ill.

Overall

While some may have concerns about privacy, it does remain to be seen how airlines and airports implement this technology– if they do. Etihad is trialing these new kiosks that will check a passenger’s health prior to their flight at a self-service kiosk. This is just the next innovation in a wave of technology designed to speed up certain processes and reduce the need for human interaction that could lead to the spread of a viral illness.

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Do you think this is a good idea? Should other airlines adopt this technology? Let us know in the comments!

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