Automation on an airport: New self-service in Vienna

We are flying back to Bangkok with my family and I’m wondering: can we ever travel “like normal people” with one or two pieces of luggage again?!

If you have kids, I'm sure you know this madness well!
If you have kids, I’m sure you know this madness well!

Flying tonight

We got to an airport in Vienna at 5pm, with a sufficient buffer for check-in. Although we checked-in online in advance, we still need to tag our baggage.

Usually we spend 20 minutes waiting in a queue — quite cumbersome!

As we already know the Vienna airport quite well, so we confidently walk to the counters in the middle as always.

Empty counters at Austrian
Empty counters at Austrian

But wait… there is nobody sitting there today! And a label on a screen says:

Self Baggage Drop Off

A steward jumps in and promptly redirects us to a new row of self-service Bag Tag machines.

These are really new! Introduced just a few months ago.

Check-in & Bag Tag
Check-in & Bag Tag

There is no queue, so I already like it!

I scan a passport, enter a number of baggage, the machine prints out tags, my wife tags the baggage. We feel like a team!

Afterward, we move to the conveyor belt. My son scans a bar code and suddenly we see the luggage moving. Magic!

Austrian’s press release

Later on I found a press release from Austrian, dated December 2016 when they launched the first version of this self-service system.

However, today we already experienced the second stage. It’s pretty much all automated!

Although it’s extremely exciting to see this technology advancement and automation, it brings an important question:

What will the employees who used to sit by the counters do going forward?

It’s likely other airlines will implement this, too. #costSavings #machinesDontComplain

How many jobs will be displaced suddenly? What will they do?

Will these people need to be retrained for some other jobs? Can this be done quickly enough?