KLM – SITA CUSS kiosks


My heart was beating faster, when I read this article yesterday on ATW Online:

KLM became the first airline to offer self-service check-in to passengers at Kuala Lumpur International, using the SITA-installed CUSS kiosks now in operation there. Together with Malaysia Airports, SITA installed 12 CUSS kiosks with 24 more to follow over the next few months. SITA said CUSS check-in applications for both Malaysia Airlines and Cathay Pacific will be placed on the kiosks before year end and the option also will be available to some 40 other carriers using KLIA.

And why was it beating faster? Because Malev was the first airline to offer self-service check-in on SITA CUSS Kiosks at the Budapest Airport. And I was the unlucky project manager who had the chance to manage that project. What was the problem? I’ll try to sum it up:

– I start it with a fact we had no other choice but working with SITA, as they were our DCS provider and they did not want to give acces to the DCS to any other CUSS provider – good start.

This is what we saw:

The promised SITA kiosk

– this was the promised kiosk. It looks good, doesn’t it? There was no problem with the way it looked, however the hardware was provided by a third party supplier, so SITA had no clue how it worked. Therefore every time we had a problem with it, we had to wait more days to get an answer from them. And we had problems.

– First hardware problem was that the kiosks were delivered here after being put together. But here we had to drill them down to the floor and for that we needed to take almost everything out from the metal box and put them together again. For that we needed a special OK from the supplier company, otherwise we could have lost warranty.

– We had many problems with the different readers. we disabled the ATB ticket reader and used only the parrport reader and the credit card reader, however these 2 readers worked with about 50% precision.

– The project was also ridiculous. We had a contact – a Hungarian guy – who was an engineer, understood the software uite well and helped us defining our requirements. We agreed on everything, then suddenly he was “taken away” from the picture, because he gave us information he was not supposed to give out. (I still have no clue what it could be) After he left the project, an American lady took over, who was uncontactable for 2-3 weeks, when it turned out she left SITA or that department in the meantime, but nobody told us about it. In the meantime we were appointed a polish project managaer, who was far enough from the London project center and even further from the developers in Canada, so as we assumed, we always k ew more about the status of the project than him. Besides that his English was awful and he was completely new at SITA, so besides being far from the other project memebers, he did not know them.

– In the end kiosks were delivered after deadline, the software never worked properly, they were not able to correct some of the outstanding bugs even until now, although the installation happened last spring.

So here is what we got:

SITA kiosks in useSITA kiosks in use

By Szafi
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5 Responses to “KLM – SITA CUSS kiosks”


  1. 1 balint01 August 8, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    I have been seeing SITA kiosks at the Frankfurt Airport, too, a bit bigger ones than those on these pictures (with wider screens) at Terminal 1, at departure halls B and C, but since I spotted them (around September 2006) they have always been showing the screen “Temporarily not available”. I have never seen any passenger using those actually… Are the ones at Malev being used by passengers after all?

  2. 2 szafi August 8, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    Rarely. It is not just the problem of the supplier though. There is another problem, too: you remember, when we introduced e-ticketing, there was a huge resistance, but the CEO did not care and pushed the new system through the organization with power.
    Mr Gonci is a nice man, but he was too nice when it came to kiosks. o when the resistance started at the check-in, nobody handled the situation. And it really didn’t mater what kind of manuals and trainings we gave them, it was visible that even the middle-level managers resisted. This way you can’t push anything through such a big organization.

  3. 3 TankGirl August 8, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    I really love the LH Self Check kiosks….

    – If they are working, the normal checkin system isn’t and when normal checkin is working, the kiosks are dead.
    – They are soooooo user friendly and intuitive (NOT!!!)
    – Whoever wrote the User Requirements and Functional Specifications should be required to stand at the kiosks assisting customers for the next year and…
    – Their Project Manager should be standing nearby noting customer complaints.
    – His/Her Manager should be timing the transaction (if they can catch it on a day when it is actually working) and
    – Their manager should be timing the length of time a passenger stands in a line.

    Don’t even get me started on the ‘time-saving’ process of checking-in at home and printing your own boarding pass…
    – It doesn’t work if the flight is a codeshare one (oh golly, was that tested?)
    – It doesn’t match the business process at the gate (damn, we forgot about linking to other systems/peripherals!)
    – It will often tell you that you are already checked in
    (shit, do I now use the Self-Check or stand in line at the counter?)

    Their IT shop needs re-booting.

  4. 4 szafi August 8, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Yep, that’s it exactly. That was my main problem when it came to requirements. Industry standard (erm, hello IATA) CUSS kiosks cannot handle code sharing, group check-in, staff check-in, anything that is non-standard.

    Just one more thing about LH kisoks – that are not CUSS compatible – they did not try it too hard to handle any kind of readers or touch screen keyboards. You may either have a regular cradit card or a Miles and More card. Full stop. No other options. The funny thing is that really many people in the word use not those regular credit cards, but either local debit cards or electron cards and those cannot be read by these readers. That is why we tried more options to identify yourself: for example passport identification or a virtual keyboard, where you can enter your e-ticket number. In the end the most used ID method was when you entered your name, destination and flight number yourself.

    And yes, sometimes you are already checked in, because check-in staff sometimes want to get prepared earlier for a certain flight, so they seat you in advance. This is OK, just the kiosks should be able to handle this situation, because it can happen quite often.

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