Air NZ customers could soon be boarding flights without having to queue or interact with staff as the airline rolls out new technology for passengers. Some changes will be introduced as early as the end of the year while others are being looked at as a possibility for the future. Regan Schoultz looks at the technology.

Apple watch check-in

An app will allow travellers to check in, receive flight information, order coffees and enter flight lounges using their Apple watch.

The app would essentially allow an airline customer to "get from their bed to the boarding gate using their watch", according to an Air New Zealand spokesman.

"We see the digital app as being the foundation and the new cornerstone for travel. We see it as a way of engaging our customers, taking out the repetitious steps of their journey and making their experience that much easier and simpler," he said.

New baggage systems

The self-service baggage drop will allow passengers to process and drop off their own baggage manually.

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The service will use a biometric camera - the same technology that immigration staff use at the Smart Gate - which will match biometric information, contained inside a passport, with the person's physical identity to verify they are the same person.

A customer will then be able to weigh and load their luggage on to the belt themselves.

This process is at present carried out by airline staff at a baggage drop-off counter.

The biometric camera has a 90 per cent accuracy rate as opposed to manual matching which, according to an Air New Zealand spokesman, only has a 50 per cent accuracy rate.

The technology is expected to eliminate queues and should start appearing at Auckland Airport by the end of the year.

Lifetime bag tags

A permanent tag attached to luggage will display bag information and a barcode for any flight.

Passengers input their details using Bluetooth technology which will update the barcode and flight information on the tag.

Electronic bands for young solo travellers

Unaccompanied minors - children under the age of 11 who are flying by themselves - will be offered a silicon wrist band of their choice containing a chip which connects to a mobile application.

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The app will allow Air New Zealand employees to easily identify the child and send intermittent text messages to parents and family of the child, notifying them where their child is in the flight process and how they are doing.

Parents will be notified when their child checks in, when they are boarding the flight, when the flight has landed and when they are collected by a nominated family member or family friend at the destination airport.

Electronic departure cards

The airline is also looking to create electronic departure cards that can be filled out by passengers on their mobile phone or home computers before checking in.

The online service will remember personal details of someone if they have previously flown and will automatically fill those out on the departure card.

Customs at present collect about six million departure cards annually, of which four million come from Air New Zealand passengers.