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EasyJet is latest airline testing iBeacons for speedier airport experiences

The use of iBeacons by airlines is quickly ramping up this summer, with Britain?s largest airline, easyJet, trialing the technology across Europe to help passengers navigate their way through the airport using the brand?s mobile application.

The easyJet app was updated on July 7, enabling it to communicate with iBeacons strategically placed around the London Luton, London Gatwick and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airports. The initiative follows moves by Virgin Atlantic, which is trialing iBeacons at Heathrow Airport, American Airlines, which has a trial in place in five United States airports, as well as other airlines. 

?The iBeacon technology is currently being trialed at London Luton, London Gatwick and Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, and will trigger helpful notifications to passengers? mobiles during critical points of the airport journey,? said Eleanor Gillingham, press office administrator for easyJet.

?The notifications are automatically activated as passengers approach bag drop and security - prompting them to open their boarding pass at the right time so it is ready to be scanned and advising when passports need to be presented,? she said. 

Triggering notifications
Passengers within the three airports who have an iPhone and the easyJet app on their phones will be able to receive notifications as they travel throughout the airport.

IBeacons are small Low Energy Bluetooth transmitters that can trigger the easyJet app to send notifications. The app uses the customer's Bluetooth signal to estimate their proximity to an iBeacon - enabling it to deliver the right message at the right time. 

The goal is to speed up the airport journey for passengers and provide assistance that will make it even easier to fly with easyJet.

EasyJet is trialing the technology during the peak summer travel period at three of its busiest airports. If it proves popular with passengers, the airlines plans to roll it out across Europe. 

EasyJet worked with the three test airports to strategically position the beacons in the locations it believes will ensure messages are sent when it is most relevant to the customer.

Hyper-local engagements
The iBeacon trial is the latest example of how easyJet is leveraging mobile technology to make its passengers? journeys easier.

The easyJet mobile app, which has been downloaded 9.2 million times, enables users to book flights, check-in to a flight and download a boarding pass, choose a seat, manage their bookings, book a hotel or car and check the latest arrival and departure time for flights.

IBeacons are being installed across a number of physical locations to drive engagements with mobile users, including inside retail stores, malls and sports stadiums.

For example, Walgreens is testing using iBeacons in several Duane Reade stores in New York to drive its coupon strategy (see story). 

Additionally, Gannett-owned Key Ring recently loaded Bluetooth Low Energy into its application to better connect with smartphone-wielding grocery shoppers through hyper-targeted content and deals (see story). 

?The airport is an interesting setting because consumers tend to be in two modes: hurry up or wait a around,? said Todd Dipaola, CEO and co-founder of inMarket, Los Angeles. ?While you wait, you are looking for things to pass the time, shop, eat, work, or entertain.

?Imagine you checked in and are sitting at Gate 12 and your flight just got delayed two hours. What if that delay was offset by a benefit, like 50 percent off at Wolfgang Puck, or other common airport restaurant.


?You can also imagine a consumer who is running late. Right after she clear's security, an app could point the consumer to the right part of the terminal to make their flight. Advanced airlines could even page a consumer on their phone to see if they are in range, then make the decision to wait that extra minute, or take off.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York