Air New Zealand last week revealed some of the high-tech changes they’re hoping to introduce to ease the hassle of travel. Travel Editor Winston Aldworth looks at some of the highlights.

Coffee on arrival

What it does

:

You've reached the airport, bustled your way through security and headed for the Koru Lounge. As soon as you walk in, your coffee is ready - made just the way you like it. No more queuing up for a flat white, no more waiting around wondering if the next latte up is yours. The app on your phone or smart watch will alert you when your coffee is ready.

Air New Zealand have developed an app for the Apple iWatch. Photo / Greg Bowker
Air New Zealand have developed an app for the Apple iWatch. Photo / Greg Bowker

How cool is it?

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Air New Zealand staff say this is probably the product that created the most positive social media feedback. It's a relatively small thing, but the airline has a great history of delivering the personal touch.

When will it be in place?
It's already there in some domestic lounges.

Electronic departure cards

What it does:

It saves you one minute. Those unwieldy orange forms are destined for the recycling bin - and not a moment too soon. If you're using the airline's app, they already have most of the information needed for the forms. So click a couple more buttons and it's job done.

Manually written departure cards could be a thing of the past. Photo / Greg Bowker
Manually written departure cards could be a thing of the past. Photo / Greg Bowker

How cool is it?

Anything that spares us from hastily looking for a pen, with our carry-on luggage aching on our shoulders is a very cool thing. I hate these forms -

.

When will it be in place?
No date in sight. They're still working on it with Customs.

Biometric scanners for luggage dropoff

What it does

Self check-in machines have speeded up the business of international departures - they've reduced queues and found that floating staff are able to assist with passengers having difficulties. But there's still a queue at the bag drop area.

Biometric scanning - similar to that used on the SmartGate systems at Customs and developed by the same company - will speed up the business of dropping off your bag. The machine scans your passport, checks that you are who you say you are and processes your bag.

At the moment, Air New Zealand has up to four drop-off points for bags at Auckland International Airport; with biometric scanners, they could have up to 11. They will be the first in the world to have these machines.

How cool is it?
I asked how much time passengers could expect to save in queuing. The airline said they expected to have no more queues. None. That's very cool.

When will it be in place?
They're hoping to have the first machines in place before the end of the year.

Electronic bag tags

What it does:

Rather than sticking one of those fiddly tags on their luggage, travellers could have a permanent tag secured to their bag. The tag will update electronically with the touch of a button on your app.

Air New Zealand's digital personal baggage tags. Photo / Greg Bowker. Photo / Greg Bowker
Air New Zealand's digital personal baggage tags. Photo / Greg Bowker. Photo / Greg Bowker

How cool is it?

I don't mind sticking the luggage tag on my bag - it takes just a few seconds and is kind of part of the ritual of travel. So, for me, the appeal of this one is limited. But ultimately it's about convenience. Electronic tags will save a few seconds and are less likely to come off.

When will it be in place?
No date in sight.

Tracking unaccompanied kids

What it does:

An electronic tracking system will provide real-time information on where your child is when they're flying alone. Parents will be able to receive notifications about take off and landing and they'll know when their little cherub has been picked up at the other end. In a smart move, Junior gets to keep the wristband (and they get to choose the colour), giving the airline a long-term marketing boost in the playground. This technology will replace a paper trail system.

Air New Zealand's personal travel bracelets for unaccompanied minors will send updates to parents. Photo / Greg Bowker
Air New Zealand's personal travel bracelets for unaccompanied minors will send updates to parents. Photo / Greg Bowker

How cool is it?

Very. Air New Zealand carries about 28,000 unaccompanied minors every year and knowing where your kids are is a seriously big deal. With a glimpse at their handheld device, cabin crew and ground staff will have handy information on your child's destination and their foibles.

When will it be in place?
Air New Zealand hopes to roll this out before the end of the year.