THE INSIDE TRACK • October 2020
Touchless technologies have been developing for some years now, but never have they been needed more. In the current and post-pandemic world, they mean minimal interactions, efficient journeys and reduced risk across your entire travel experience. Can it be done? The Club maps out the ultimate contactless journey
The key to a contactless journey is having everything in your own pocket. That’s where the British Airways app comes in. Download the app to your device (this can be an Apple Watch or iPad, as well as a phone) – this lets you check in without any stress up to 24 hours before your flight departs. The app will store up to eight digital boarding passes on any one mobile device, so you’re ready to flash it to those scanners at security and beyond.
Feeling confident at Heathrow
From hand sanitiser to social distancing, we know you’re doing your bit to make sure the airport journey is as safe as possible, but what is the airport doing? At Heathrow, it turns out, quite a lot. The airport’s new Fly Safe campaign is all about welcoming back customers with enhanced safety measures.
This includes stricter cleaning regimes, but also touchless payment options via the Heathrow App, allowing travellers to pre-book and (and pay for) parking, as well as food and drink, ahead of time. You’ll even see touchless water refill stations around the terminals. Last but not least, go contactless on your train journey to Heathrow from London Paddington by booking Heathrow Express tickets online or with the app.
Watch the video below to find out more
A touch-free terminal
You can also use the app to print off baggage tags at Terminal 5’s self-service kiosks (all you need is your boarding pass and identification to do so), then deposit your luggage at one of the many hosted bag drops (pictured below) – there are 72 of them at Heathrow Terminal 5 to choose from. Alternatively, get yourself a TAG, the digital bag tag that clips on to your case and syncs with your app, which you can also use at the self-service bag drops.
Pay for your duty-free purchases using the contactless payment option on your debit card, then consider giving to charity through special, contactless donation stations dotted around Gatwick and Heathrow – these will help British Airways reach its target of raising £25m for Flying Start (British Airways’ global charity partnership with Comic Relief) by the end of 2020.
Light touch lounges
British Airways’ lounges now offer contactless entry – simply scan your boarding pass upon arrival. Plus there’s a new food and drink ordering platform, Your Menu, designed to keep customers and staff safe. When you take a seat in the lounges (seats and tables are sanitised after every use), use your phone camera to scan the QR code you’ll see, follow simple instructions to order your meals, then sit back and wait for something delicious to be brought directly to your seat.
Watch the video below to learn more
Now you’re settled, it’s time to pick up something to read without having to pick up anything at all. A link in your pre-departure email turns any mobile device into a portal to access more than 7,000 digital newspapers and magazines for free via the PressReader platform. You can browse and download as many titles as you like for up to three days, with anything you download yours to keep. To read British Airways’ flagship magazine, High Life, simply visit bahighlife.com (pictured below) – where you’ll find stories from the world’s most exciting travellers and helpful hacks for your on-board experience.
Up, up and away
British Airways pioneered biometric and facial recognition technology to help passengers glide through security via its super smart e-gates (pictured below). It was also the first UK airline to use similar tech for boarding, and millions of passengers now board flights by simply showing their face rather than fiddling for passports and boarding passes.
This streamlined boarding has halved the time it takes to board a British Airways plane. Once on board, meanwhile, ever-increasing roll-out of Wi-Fi connectivity in the air will let you do plenty on your own devices – so you can play around in the Cloud while being far above them.
Smooth getaways on arrival
At many destinations around the network, British Airways’ car rental partner Avis gives travellers a contactless car-hire experience thanks to its Avis Preferred programme. For those with Membership, an easy-to-use app (pictured below) lets you choose your vehicle, make amendments to a rental, then walk directly from the arrival gate to the car. In some instances, the keys and paperwork will be waiting for you in the car.
Meanwhile, if you’re using public transport, apps from companies such as Trainline (5 Avios/£1) allow you to download tickets to your phone so you can hop straight on board, skipping the need to decipher any glitchy ticket machines.
A growing number of hotels – including major players such as Marriott and Hilton – are smoothing arrivals at their properties with contactless check-in that allows guests to chart all their wants and wishes before even setting foot in the foyer. At Hilton, for example, guests can check in, choose their room, enter using a digital key, then check out using their mobile devices via the Hilton Honors app. Handy.