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Siemens Working On Cell-Phone Service For Airport Check-In

It's working with a Swiss firm to make cells virtual check-in counters and boarding passes.

Check-in airline kiosks have provided travelers with some relief in getting through airports and to their flights. Now Sita Information Networking Computing and Siemens Business Services are hoping to take that relief one step further. The two companies are working together to develop a system through which passengers would check in using their mobile phones.

The service, called Sita Mobile Check-in (Sita is a Swiss vendor that makes airline-specific IT systems), will be tested over the next few months and rolled out in a limited number of markets by 2006.

Sita claims the service will not only reduce the time passengers spend waiting in lines, it will also cut costs by combining an on-demand pay-per-transaction model with standard technology that can be used by any airline.

People would be able to access seat maps and choose seats, and bar codes displayed on a phone's screen would turn them into boarding passes.

Mobile Check-in will take hold quickly in overseas markets, where mobile technologies are more prevalent and airport security procedures are a little less stringent, Forrester Research analyst Henry Harteveldt says. He questions the technology's viability in the United States unless the Transportation Security Administration agrees to accept bar codes displayed in cell phones for passage through security checkpoints.

He also says the technology isn't likely to produce substantial cost savings for airlines that already have invested heavily in self-service check-in kiosks.

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