About 18 months back I was surprised to find a convenient checking-in process done by Kingfisher (Yes, I know that this was the only item I am in praise of an airline other than my favourite Jet Airways). It is by what they call “Roving Agents” who are airline staff roaming around near the entrance and checking counters. If you just have a hand baggage they check you right there with the help of a PDA and print your boarding pass as well (with the printer connected to the hip belt). I noticed the PDA they use was a Windows CE based Symbol Technologies device, but I was interested in knowing the entire solution story.

In an article that came in CIO India Magazine’s supplement “10 Studies in Innovation” I saw the article “Terminal Velocity” which described this solution in detail. The Roving Agent piggybacks on the Wi-fi infrastructure available at airports. Agents carry PDAs (MC-70 from Symbol Technologies) that run a client application connected to the host system. The PDA is also connected to a portable thermal printer (Cameo-3 from Zebra Technologies) via Bluetooth. Read the entire article here.

Agreed that this solution is less appealing now than 18 months before. With most of the airlines allowing you to print your boarding pass online itself it makes Roving Agents less compelling, but from a technology perspective this is a good case study.

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