PIA’s IT department had been one of the best in the world with state of the art equipment and it was one of the few elite airlines that developed their own departure and reservation systems, DEPAK and REPAK, which were in use till the mid 90s. The overall downfall of the airline began which saw PIA unable to modernise an already available system and starting issuing tenders for using third party systems. Currently, PIA uses a system made by tech giant Sabre named Sabre Sonic Check-in.
There was no convenience for passengers until now where the IT department has come back after a long hiatus and planned this, now very elementary, web check-in facility. It is initially planned on domestic sectors from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. Later stages call for implementation all around the PIA network after procurement of sufficient equipment at boarding gates.
A passenger can check-in 24 hours prior to the departure of the flight. It also includes flight status, seat allocation of the passenger and boarding card printing or bar code generation. A mobile app is also being launched to support business and casual travellers, both, in this ever so digital world.
First, a passenger will input their PNR into the software. Then, a seat map will be generated according to the aircraft that is scheduled. The passenger can select the seat according to their convenience. If they have luggage that need to get checked in, they have to select the option, At the airport, the passenger will present the computer generated boarding card (which can be shown on the mobile phone screen) at a specially dedicated bag drop counter.
Due to this system, passengers can now report a maximum of 20 minutes before departure thus saving a lot of time for them by standing in queues. If there is a returning passenger on the same day, they can generate their boarding cards beforehand. However, the web check-in system will close check-in, 3 hours before departure.
The soft opening of this facility is planned on 7th of June while the full scale launch is planned on 12th of June. However, full scale use cannot be confirmed since the equipment could possibly not reach before 12th in which case, the soft launch will continue where boarding cards will be printed at the airport which will have to be collected from the check-in counter.
This is a good step forward for PIA and we hope PIA moves towards self check-in kiosks in the near future.