Automating Passenger Travel Document Checks
Airlines can save more than 50 cents per passenger by automating the travel-document-compliance process. Robust technology ensures that documentation is automatically checked for 100 percent of international travelers, helping airlines streamline processes, reduce costs and boost agent productivity.
Ensuring that passengers have sufficient and correct travel documentation can be a complex, time-consuming task for airlines. Adding to the complexity are governments‘ constant changes to visa requirements, passport validity, and other immigration rules and regulations. Despite the best efforts of airlines and ground handlers, some passengers still manage to slip through the cracks, resulting in immigration fines for airlines and the forced repatriation of such travelers at the airlines‘ expense.
To address these challenges and help airlines reduce costs, the International Air Transport Association will partner with Sabre Airline Solutions®, using IATA‘s Timatic AutoCheck solution in conjunction with SabreSonic® Check-in. As such, Sabre Airline Solutions has built a new infrastructure used to send various data to Timatic AutoCheck. Upon receipt of the data, Timatic AutoCheck produces an immediate response, and based on the response, Check-in either allows or restricts check-in.
Timatic AutoCheck automatically checks passengers‘ travel documents to ensure they meet all travel requirements. If a passenger does not have the necessary documentation for his or her trip, check-in will be restricted and the airline agent will be notified of specific documentation and visa requirements.
Automatically checking passengers‘ travel documents during agent or self-service check-in to ensure they have everything required for their final destination, as well as for any transit points throughout their journey, is a key feature of the combined solution.
If the passenger does not have the necessary travel documents, check-in will be restricted and the agent will automatically be informed of specific documentation and visa requirements. Not only will this speed up the check-in process, but it will also help airlines eliminate fines for improperly documented passengers.
Timatic, the database supporting Timatic AutoCheck, is the industry standard used by airlines, ground handlers and travel agents alike to ensure compliance with border-control rules and regulations. Its database contains all cross-border passenger documentation requirements. More than 100 million passengers have their documentation requirements checked against the Timatic database every year. Heavy fines levied against airlines by the immigration authorities of a receiving country occur every time a passenger is carried without the correct travel documentation.
Timatic delivers specific information based on a passenger‘s destination, transit points, nationality, travel documentation, country of residence, etc. The information contained in Timatic includes:
- Passport requirements and recommendations,
- Visa requirements and recommendations,
- Health requirements and recommendations,
- Airport tax to be paid by the traveler at either the departure or arrival airport,
- Customs regulations relating to import and export of goods and pets,
- Currency regulations relating to import and export by a passenger.
The new joint Check-in/Timatic AutoCheck solution automates the document check process, resulting in significant improvements in an airline‘s processes. It will help eliminate fines due to improper documentation because airlines will no longer need to depend on an agent to input the correct information. Automatic document checks can also be integrated into self-service applications, which will increase utilization of this option since manual document checks by check-in agents are usually no longer necessary.
Automatic Passport Check
Once a passport is scanned during the check-in process, SabreSonic Check-in reads the passport/ID document data and matches it to the data in the PNR. The system then submits this information to Timatic AutoCheck to ensure all documentation is valid.
How Timatic AutoCheck Works
As part of the check-in process, the agent or passenger scans a passport. Check-in reads the passport/ID document data, combines it with the itinerary data in the passenger name record (PNR) and submits this information to Timatic AutoCheck. In the vast majority of cases, an ”OK“ is instantaneously returned and the check-in process proceeds seamlessly.
When the document is not sufficient, or if there are additional requirements, a simple response such as ”visa required“ or ”passport needs to be valid for six months upon arrival“ is returned to the agent or the self-service check-in application. When a visa is required, passengers are prompted to scan their visa or are redirected to an agent who will be presented with a clear, concise message about additional required checks.
If the Timatic AutoCheck response is a ”NOGO,“ check-in is restricted. The agent is then presented with a message detailing what the passenger needs and can act accordingly. If, for example, the passenger is holding a residence permit for the country he or she is visiting, the agent can enter this and run a new Timatic AutoCheck request, which will result in a ”Yes“ and check-in can proceed.
Timatic updates its information 50 times a day on average. It receives updated information from varied sources within each country such as immigration authorities, police and the department of foreign affairs, as well as airlines. All information received is then verified before it is made available to customers. In this way, airlines can be sure that the information they are using is not only up to date but also accurate.
When an airline passenger does not have sufficient documentation, or if additional paperwork is required, the airline agent or self-service check-in application will receive a response such as ”visa required.“ When a visa is required, passengers can either scan their visa or visit an agent who will be presented with a brief message about additional requirements.
Timatic AutoCheck enables airlines and ground handlers to automate the passenger-travel-document-compliance process so 100 percent of international passengers can have their documents checked automatically.
By using this new functionality in Check-in, airlines will benefit by:
- Improved operational efficiencies,
- Reduced staff-training costs,
- Increased utilization of self-service check-in,
- Reduced fines and repatriation costs,
- Reduced passenger compensation for incorrect refusal to board,
- Enhanced customer experience.
Ensuring airline passengers are carrying the correct travel documentation results in a seamless check-in process with no delays or disruptions. It also helps provide a hassle-free travel experience for passengers and airlines alike.
Additionally, automating the travel document compliance process can save airlines more than 50 cents per passenger, including:
- Reduction in manually screening processes — US$0.21,
- Reduction of fines and managing these passengers — US$0.10,
- Increased cost savings due to increased penetration of self-service check-in — US$0.24.
Timatic AutoCheck enables airlines to comply with government regulations, simplify their processes, reduce costs and free agents to concentrate on other important aspects of their jobs. Airlines using Check-in can take advantage of the new automated solution by the end of the year.