Jetstar technology chief Stephen Tame has stated his intention to make the budget airline "100% self service".
However, the goal is not purely about cost-cutting, according to Tame, but rather, about making more seats available for passengers without having to find more airport check-in counters at already heavily utilised airports.
"You do then save time and money, but ... that wasn't the key driver," he said. "We can put staff on more planes, but we couldn't actually manufacture more check-in counters at airports."
"The check-in counter was running about 1 minutes and 20 seconds per passenger. By comparison, when we introduced fast bag drop, we got that down to 27 seconds per passenger. And with the introduction of our self-tagging, we got down to 12 seconds."
"So we are now pushing significantly more volumes through our check-in counters," he said.
"But we realised we were hitting a plateau in 2010 — we weren't getting better than 50-55% self-service, and we couldn't drive that further."
"We were getting very high numbers out of origin airports like Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, et cetera, or people who were originating in KL or Singapore."
"But we were getting very small numbers on the return journey. People self-service on the way out, but were highly unlikely on the way back, because they didn't have their laptop or didn't want to use the computer at the hotel because they were having fun on the beach."
"SMS is a pervasive technology - 99.99% of all mobile phones worldwide can receive and send SMS."
"With an SMS boarding pass, we have no requirement for paper, and we have no requirement for a internet-enabled mobile phone."
"What we have is that at the point of sale, Jetstar allows for customers to pick their seat, and we are now also offering the customer the ability to enrol for check-in."
"12 hours out from your flight, you will receive via email and SMS your boarding pass for your outward bound journey."
At the other end, where "you don't have your computer with you, we will send you your return boarding pass via email and SMS."
The SMS boarding passes used by Jetstar are true text-only SMSes — a string of characters which are then scanned by a kiosk at the airport and a paper boarding pass printed for the passenger.
Tame said Jetstar had rejected Qantas-style RFID wireless bag tags as an option because the airline did not have a frequent flyer program, and that on-screen barcodes sent to customers' mobile phone web browsers were also rejected because of low penetration of mobile internet plans in Jetstar's passenger base.
Stephen Tame was speaking at the Check-in Asia conference in Kuala Lumpur.