American Airlines is to run a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacon pilot at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), allowing travellers to access a range of wayfinding and location-based services from their mobile device. The project will be “the world’s biggest airport deployment of beacons to date” and is to be rolled out over the summer to beta users “on select routes and airports in North America”.
The airline will be making use of a new Common-use Beacon Registry, developed by technology provider Sita, that allows airlines to make shared use of BLE beacons installed in airports. Other app developers will also be able to create travel-related apps that make use of an airport’s beacon infrastructure, via an API.
“With beacons, airlines can easily provide passengers with indoor directions, walk times to gates, lounge access and alerts about boarding,” Sita says. “Knowing where a passenger is before sending information enables more effective communication.”
“As we worked with airlines across the world including American Airlines at DFW and San Francisco International, and others at London Heathrow Airport, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Copenhagen Airport, we saw very quickly that an industry approach was needed,” Jim Peters, Sita’s CTO explained to attendees at the Air Transport IT Summit.
“We have launched the Sita Common-use Beacon Registry to give the industry a single point of contact for common-use beacons deployed at any airport around the world. With it, airports can control and share the meta data – the exact location including information on gates, terminals, etc — with airlines and other partners and allow passengers to receive accurate and relevant information.”
“Beacons provide a fantastic opportunity to improve the passenger experience, but to do so they must be consistently deployed at all airports,” adds Phil Easter, director of mobile apps at American Airlines. “Using Sita’s Registry will enable us to provide the same great user experience to our passengers using our app in airports, not just in North America but across our global route network.”