Gatwick Airport Tests Hi-Tech Security and Passenger Technology

August 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Remember how impressed you were the first time you saw an airport faucet that turned on automatically when you waved your hand in front of them? (Don’t pretend you weren’t!)

It’s almost shocking how far airports have come technologically since then. Case in point: Gatwick Airport’s chief information officer, Michael Ibbitson, recently told about the new technology that’s not just wowing passengers, but also streamlining the passenger experience and making travel safer for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the technological advances Gatwick has made.

Speeding Up Bag Check

English: Gatwick South Terminal Zone K check-i...

Gatwick South Terminal Zone K check-in concourse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Automated bag check and check-in are technologies well on their way to mass adoption at this point, but Gatwick is aiming to make them more efficient than ever.

EasyJet has been testing a bag drop system fueled by Phase 5 Technology at its Gatwick hub. According to Ibbitson, the average passenger took 76 seconds to process — the goal is to get passengers through in 45 — so they’re tweaking the system, working toward maximum efficiency.

Automated Security

One of the major headaches of air travel, no matter how far you’re traveling, is getting through security. Gatwick is attempting to make security checkpoints smoother by automating them — the systems installed in 2012 have cut wait time to an average of a mere 107 seconds — and installing Security Max lanes that will enable even more passengers to prepare for the checkpoint at once.

Iris Scanning Technology

The wildest technology we read about: Biometrics as a single passenger token. The gist is that when you check in at the airport and drop your bag off, a machine also scans your iris — an identity marker that’s almost impossible to forfeit — and all your passenger information, from baggage tracking to your passport and boarding pass, is encoded into the scan.

A single scan of your iris is all it takes to move you through the rest of the travel process throughout the airport — and even at your destination.

According to the Future Travel Experience post, this technology is well within reach — it’s the widespread implementation of the technology at airports worldwide that will take some time.

What technology would you most like to see implemented in your favorite airport? The sky’s the limit, so they say — leave a comment with your loftiest technology dreams.

Gatwick Airport Adopts Google Indoor Streetview

May 8, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Gatwick Airport, the second largest airport in the UK, now allows visitors to take a tour on the inside of the airport before you even arrive. Thanks to Google Indoor Streetview, passengers can take a virtual tour of the North and South terminals of the airport, making it the largest indoor map used in Europe.

English: Gatwick's North Terminal building and...

English: Gatwick’s North Terminal building and transit station (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all can get lost in new airports and constantly have to try to find out where we are going using signs and maps. In Gatwick Airport, you can now use the indoor map which was stitched together from 2,000 images. Using your desktop browser, your smartphone, or tablet, you can access the services from Google Maps website or app or from the Gatwick Airport website.

The map can take you to key areas of interest like restrooms, shops, restaurants, and information hubs. Once inside the airport — actually inside it, not virtually inside — you can use the virtual maps to navigate your way around, rather than traditional ones.

The Chief Information Officer at Gatwick Airport reported that this is the latest technological development to help improve travelers’ experience at the airport. One advancement we’ve already thought of is being able to use the map to route you to your gate. That way, you could follow your path to your gate without getting confused by a new map and territory. We’ll have to wait and see what Google and Gatwick are able to come up with, and whether these maps will make it over to airports in America.

Travel Tip: Use the ‘Double Irish’ To Save Money on Your Next Plane Ticket to Britain

October 8, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Having a difficult time finding semi-affordable airfare to the United Kingdom? If you feel like ticket prices have skyrocketed within the last few years, you’re not crazy — passengers on flights into the UK are subject to the ever-increasing Air Passenger Duty Tax, which is increasing ticket prices to England, Scotland, and Wales..

Dublin City CentreThe Air Passenger Duty (or APD) was introduced in 1994 with a £5 rate per ticket for the UK and European Union and £10 per ticket elsewhere. Unfortunately, what was once a small tax has now skyrocketed. Come April 1, 2014, passengers can expect to pay anywhere between $20 extra for brief flights to a whopping $600 extra per ticket for first class long-haul flights.

Fortunately, some savvy travelers have discovered a way to avoid the UK’s Air Passenger Duty which they’ve dubbed the Double Irish.

According to manager Jonathan Thomas, this is how the Double Irish works:

  1. Fly direct from the USA on Aer Lingus to Dublin.
  2. Fly from Dublin to London (or elsewhere in the UK). Then when returning home, fly from the UK to Dublin
  3. Clear US Customs in advance in Dublin
  4. Fly to the USA. This trick should work on any airline flying into any location in Ireland, so you may want to shop around and do some price comparison.

Why does this save you money? For starters, while Ireland does still taxes flights, it doesn’t charge a hefty Air Passenger Duty Tax. Additionally, the APD is charged in tiers and the further you fly, the more you pay. While you’ll still be subjected to the APD on your flight from Dublin to the UK, you won’t pay much — roughly $20 USD for coach class.

Keep in mind, you need to book two separate flights, not just a stopover. So you’ll need a round trip ticket from the US to Dublin, and a second roundtripper from Dublin to the UK. Thomas also recommends you take a day or two on either end of your trip to spend some time seeing Dublin. You’re already there, so why not enjoy yourself?

Photo credit: Erzsèbet (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Travel tips for Ireland

November 3, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

This guest post was written by our favorite French expatriate, Julie Duran-Gelleri. Julie has lived in several different countries around Western Europe, so we asked her for some travel tips in some of her previous homes. She currently resides in Ireland, although her travels and life may take her elsewhere in the coming years.

Ireland might be the European country that is closest to the US in terms of culture. Not only do they speak English, but customs and habits won’t feel as foreign as elsewhere in Europe.

[St. Stephen's Green Park, Dublin. County Dubl...

Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr

If renting a car, be aware that you have to drive on the left side of the road, as in England. Main roads and motorways are in a very good state, but smaller roads in the countryside will be narrow and bumpy, so drive carefully.

Bring a heavy-duty rain jacket. Ireland’s national color is green for a reason: the landscape is so verdant because it rains a lot, often, sometimes heavily. An umbrella might not be very useful, as the wind, especially on the Atlantic coast, can be very strong.

In restaurants, try Irish salmon or roast lamb, or the traditional Irish stew. Irish breakfast consists of eggs and bacon, baked beans, potato patties and blood sausage. Most B&Bs will also offer continental breakfast: yogurt, cereals, ham and cheese.

You will, of course, visit several pubs during your stay. The Irish are famous for drinking a lot, so if you don’t drink at all that might take a little bit of explaining… If going to the pub with Irish friends, you will be asked “What are you drinking?” and each participant is expected to pay for a round of drinks.

The pub is often the hub of social life. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger, people are very open and friendly, and love a good story or joke. But if there is live Irish music, absolute silence is in order as a mark of respect to the musicians, especially the singers!

If you run into any kind of trouble, just ask for help. Irish people are deservedly famous for their hospitality. Customer service might be less spectacular than in the States, but share your problem with a member of staff and you will be told “I’ll see what I can do.” Usually your problem will be solved in a matter of minutes.

Ireland is very welcoming to visitors, so don’t worry – “Ah, you’ll be grand!”

Ireland boasts quite a few famous writers: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw were all native to the Emerald Isle.

You could try Memoir, by John McGahern, and The Field, by J.B. Keane, for a grim naturalistic account of life in rural Ireland in the forties and fifties.

To cheer you up and show you the brighter side of Ireland, read Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes for some brilliant Irish humour.

  • IRELAND – Part 1 (