Virgin Atlantic trials Apple iBeacon tech for iPhone users at London Heathrow Airport

“Virgin Atlantic has chosen London Heathrow Airport to be the first airport in the world for testing out low-energy Bluetooth Beacon technology, as part of the airline’s efforts to create a personalised customer experience,” Mary-Ann Russon reports for International Business Times. “Tiny Beacon devices created by start-up Estimote are stationed on walls throughout the Virgin Atlantic areas of Heathrow Terminal 3, and from today, as passengers walk past, the beacons will send personal notifications to their iPhones.”

“The technology works as long as Virgin Atlantic customers have downloaded their electronic boarding pass to the Apple Passbook app on their iPhone,” Russon reports. “Once they enter Virgin Atlantic areas such as the Upper Class Wing or the Club House, passengers will receive welcome message push notifications on their iPhone lock screens, and as they approach airport security or boarding gates, the app will pull up their boarding pass and send them helpful reminders, such as an alert about what time to board.”

“‘We know who you are, where you are in the airport and on that basis, we also know your customer journey from the Beacons. So if we know when you’re going to arrive and what your favourite cocktail is, we can have that ready in the Upper Class Wing,’ Virgin Atlantic’s Head of Development for eBusiness James Shanahan explained. The beacons also come with a thermometer and an accelerometer. Virgin Atlantic has an outdoor deck and the beacons could be used to alert staff to temperature changes, so that they could bring blankets out to passengers if the weather becomes cold,” Russon reports. “The airline is also considering placing beacons on each piece of luggage that is checked in. Using the accelerometer function which monitors movement, in future customers could use the airline’s own app to monitor the journey their luggage takes, so they would know when and where to go to pick up their luggage.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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  1. How come nobody told me?
    I could have flown with a Virgin across the Atlantic if I had known that they would be beckoning me! 🙂
    Translation for those who don’t get it: Beaconing!

  2. … Presumably the outdoor deck is attached to the lounge, not the planes.

    Do people want to be distracted by a beeping phone when they are going through immigration and boarding? It’s stressful enough carrying bags, identity documents, duty free and keeping track of your belongings as you go through umpteen security scanners.

    1. @ SunbeamRapier. If you have Upper Class or Club House Wing access as a Virgin customer, you will not be carrying your own luggage! Your check in and boarding are all dealt with as you enjoy your cocktail or favorite drink. If you are a virgin Atlantic First Class customer, you are provided with a door to door service.
      So the only people who need reminding of when to board are those traveling regular/economy.

      In any case, you do not have to download the App if you feel you have enough on your plate already.

      Most people, I believe would appreciate being able to monitor their baggage through all the stages of travel, wouldn’t you? in any case, speak for yourself and not for other unknown people who may have a different view.

  3. I remember back when something would be “tested” not “trialed”

    (that was actually hard to type, as the spellcheck kept wanting to change it to trailed.)

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