Gatwick Airport has opened the world’s largest self-service bag drop zone following an 18-month construction programme as part of the transformation of its North Terminal.
The £36 million project is a major part of the airport’s growth strategy as the investment in technology will speed passengers through the check-in and bag drop formalities, allowing Gatwick to handle greater numbers of passengers by increasing peak check-in capacity from 3,000 to 4,350 passengers per hour.
Phase One of the project opened last October, with the final phase now complete and the full space now open for passengers. Gatwick’s biggest airline easyJet is located in the new area and now has the space to move all its South Terminal flights to the North Terminal, creating a much simpler experience for passengers flying with the airline. The consolidation will happen in January 2017 when British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will also switch their flight operations, with British Airways moving South and Virgin Atlantic moving North.
Gatwick recently reached the 40 million passengers per year milestone, more than ten years ahead of predictions. With this type of growth, the investment in the airport’s transformation is more important than ever, allowing continued growth while it waits to build its second runway.
The airport says a self-service bag drop trialled in the South Terminal, proved that queuing times can be significantly shortened by allowing passengers to take charge of their own journey through the airport. The technology enables passengers who have checked in online to take their bags straight to a machine upon arrival at the airport, where they can print their luggage tag, apply it to their bag and load it straight onto the baggage sorting system. Gatwick now has 60 check-in points with 48 of these being self-service bag drop units. The airport says this means the check-in process can be completed in less than two minutes.