Common Use standards allow airlines, airports, and ground handling agents to support the optimization of passenger processes using shared technologies typically found at airports, but also at seaports, hotels and train stations.
Needs and technology evolve continuously. For example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many Common Use technology providers have adopted innovating technologies and adapted their products to enable a contactless passenger process. IATA is leading the development and maintenance of global Common Use standards to build strong collaboration with partners and ensure interoperability between all stakeholders involved. Using a standardized approach will result in increasing the throughput and reducing the need for infrastructure expansion, benefiting airlines by reducing the integration with platform providers.
The following Resolution and Recommended Practices contained in the IATA Passenger Standards Conference Manual (PSCM) support the Common Use technology:
Resolution 792 - Bar Coded Boarding Pass (BCBP)
Resolution 792 supports the boarding pass data elements of a machine-readable bar code format. The 2-dimensional bar code has the capacity to convey data on a wide range of devices (paper and mobile) to produce a boarding pass with encoded data.
IATA’s BCBP group of experts is responsible for maintaining and updating the Resolution 792. Version 8 of the resolution became effective on June 1, 2020. Read more about the changes brought to the resolution it in the Common Use News section.
Recommended Practice 1706c
Recommended Practice 1706c - Common Use Self Service (CUSS)
A Common Use Self Service (CUSS) kiosk is a shared kiosk offering airport check-in to passengers without the need for ground staff and can be used by several participating airlines.
Current version of the CUSS technical specifications is CUSS version 1.5.1
The CUSS technical specifications document has been adapted to reflect the COVID-19 reality, supporting contactless solutions. An addendum to the CUSS version 1.5.1 is also available to provide a standard interface to support biometric requirements on a CUSS platform.
The CUSS Technical Solutions Group (CUSS TSG) is currently working on developing CUSS version 2.0 which will soon be available.
Recommended Practice 1797
Recommended Practice 1797 - Common Use Passenger Processing Systems (CUPPS)
Current version of the CUPPS technical specifications is CUPPS version 1.04
CUPPS describes the range of services, specifications, and standards enacted to enable multiple airlines, service providers to share physical check-in or gate podium positions (either simultaneously or consecutively). The CUPPS scenario assumes a circumstance whereby an airline, employee or other service providers interact with a passenger for check-in and boarding processes.
Recommended Practice 1741
Recommended Practice 1741- Common Use Web Services (CUWS) for Baggage and Passenger Conformance Services
The purpose of this technical specification is to standardize data exchange supporting Common Use self-service bag drop through the use of web services technology.
With the evolution of biometric and IATA One ID processes, the CUWS Technical Solutions Group (CUWS TSG) has an opportunity of delivering a new set of Passenger Access Management Services throughout touchpoints supporting biometric requirements.
The CUWS TSG is currently working in delivering basic functionalities in the following activities:
- Passenger Identification Management
- Airside Security Access
The definition of the message using an Application Programming Interface (API) should aid in reducing these costs by providing a standard for interacting between parties which can be reused by both the service provider and the consumer. The details of the data definitions using the Aviation Industry Data Model (AIDM) semantic model ensures that the data can be reused and is interoperable.
Airlines can benefit from this standard as it provides advanced self-services to their passengers with a very short time-to-market. Assuming airlines already have established a CUWS with a given airport, extending to a new location and/or a new service provider becomes straightforward. The objective is to allow an airline to focus on the business process made available by a given service provider at a given airport.
The trend towards self-service continues to evolve and the airlines’ preferred method in engaging with their passengers is shifting towards personal mobile devices. A CUWS interface is suited to the development of self-service passenger processing solutions on personal mobile platforms.
Common use Technology is defined as the flexible and shared use of airport facilities. It provides a platform for airlines, airports and ground handling agents to support the optimization of passenger processes at a given location, typically at an airport terminal, but may also be used off-site such as seaports, hotels and train stations.
Common Use technology is a key component involved in the passenger experience; it provides a seamless and secure way of handling functions such as check-in, bag-drop, identity management, security access, boarding and biometric validation.
New challenges are always on the horizon and unexpected events can occur without notice. The technology used to support the passenger processes and enhance passenger experience at, and off-airport need to be assessed continuously and updated on a regular basis.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many Common Use technology providers have adopted innovating technologies and adapted their products to enable a contactless passenger process. The need to create global Common Use standards and build strong collaboration with partners is detriment in ensuring interoperability between all stakeholders involved.
In a post-Covid era, the travelling population will continue to increase, and airlines and airports will be required to adapt their processes to maintain the safety and the security of their operations whilst improving passenger throughput.
Benefits of Common Use Technology
- Reduces costs for airlines and airports by simplifying the development, installation, support and ongoing maintenance of vital passenger processing and operations.
- Allows airlines to have one application that works as expected on any vendor’s standard interface.
- Allows the standard interface to work at any airport including on site and off site, ensuring product and service consistency.
- Provides a structured environment and standard interfaces for introducing new technologies that support the evolving needs of the air transport industry.
- Enables timeliness of changes to systems.
Technology Challenges and Innovation
- Evolution of technology: the aviation industry needs to adjust and adapt to innovative technologies
- Contactless options: short, medium and long-term solutions need to be developed and implemented
- Modular add-on to self-service solutions: need to be flexible to allow changes
- Mobile Solutions: enabling interaction with Common Use devices
Stay updated on the latest developments of the Common Use Group (CUG) as well as any relevant information that supports these activities.
CUSS 2.0 Updates
The CUSS TSG is working on the development of the next CUSS Technical Specifications, version CUSS 2.0.
Why CUSS 2.0 ?
- Most of the technologies incorporated by CUSS 1.x have already reached their End of Life, will be deprecated within the next years, are already not maintained anymore or have changed the licensing model to an unfavourable one.
Expected benefits of CUSS 2.0
- CUSS 2.0 will make use of the latest Web Technologies like OpenAPI, Oauth2, HTML5, JSON, TLS > 1.2 and WebSocket technologies enabling Web Developers to implement CUSS applications.
- Compliancy with other standards such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), etc. The use of current technologies allows to comply with current payment, privacy and security standards and regulations.
- CUSS 2.0 follows the “Security by Design” principles and supports Secure Technologies.
- Integration of Handheld Devices enabling contactless requirements.
- Supports a range of portable electronic devices such as tablets and mobile phones.
- CUSS 2.0 will allow a better compatibility with the latest technologies and shorter release cycles resulting in implementation and maintenance cost savings.
Important timelines for CUSS 2.0
- CUSS 2.0 shall be capable of supporting CUSS 1.5 applications through an emulator technology.
- Switch-over target date is set for 2023.
Note: these timelines have been endorsed at the IATA Passenger Standards Conference (PSC) in October 2020.
How to get involved in CUSS 2.0?
IATA Member airlines, airports and strategic partners are welcomed to participate in developing the standards. The IATA Strategic Partnership Program offers the Common Use area of involvement. Read more about it here.
Bar Coded Boarding pass (BCBP) Implementation Guide
The BCBP group of experts updated Resolution 792 version 8, which has become effective on June 1, 2020.
The list of changes to Resolution 792 - Version 8 is as follows:
- Gender Code - Field 15: Gender Code the gender code “X” which is defined as “Unspecified” and gender code “U” defined as “Undisclosed”.
The list of changes to Resolution 792 - Version 7 which came into effect on June 1, 2018 is summarized below. Section 2.2.4 provides additional information and examples related to certain data elements contained in the standard for implementation purposes:
- Bar Code on Printed Boarding Pass: the default Bar Code presented on printed boarding pass is a 2-dimensional Bar Code in PDF417 standard containing a structure data message (SDM). On the request from the Airlines version 7 extend the standards to allow Aztec, Datamatrix or QR code formats on printed boarding pass those formats are currently used on Electronic (Mobile) Boarding Pass only.
- Field 23 (Baggage Tag License Plate Number (s)): last 3 digits have been changed to follow RESO 740/RP1745 where 001= 1 bag, 002= 2 bags, 007= 7 on version 6th of RESO 792, 000=1 bag.
- Field 6 (Field Size of variable size field): there was a change in the Implementation Guide where the previous version stated: Items 8 to 118, Plus Item 4, and now Size of data used within the subsequent conditional and airline individual fields (items 8 to 254, plus item 4) in ASCII-printed hexadecimal. If not used, enter "00."
- Field 10 (Field Size of following structured message - unique): there was a change in the Implementation Guide where the previous version stated: Items 15 to 23 the updated version: Size of data used within the subsequent fields (items 15 to 32), in ASCII-printed hexadecimal. If not used, enter "00." Should only count for the length of the conditional data identified as unique. In other words, it is the sum of the length of items 15, 12, 14, 22, 16, 21, 23, 31 and 32.
End of Life - Adobe Flash Plug-in
US company Adobe has announced the End of Life of the Flash Player. Adobe no longer supports Flash Player after December 31, 2020 and no new updates or security patches for this software will be published. The company also states that Flash-based content will be blocked from running in Adobe Flash Player after the EOL date. Meanwhile open standards such as HTML5, WebGL and WebAssembly fulfill the role of Adobe Flash.
As a consequence to the above announcement, application suppliers and providers cannot expect a newer Flash or Shockwave version than the latest one released by Adobe in 2020 and distributed on a CUSS platform.
Application providers still using Adobe Flash as a technology in their applications must double check with CUSS platform providers on the latest Flash version available on the targeted CUSS platform and if this version still plays Flash based content.
As of 2021 the Common Use Self Service TSG will no longer list Adobe Flash and Shockwave plug-in’s as a required presentation technology in its CUSS specification(s).
End of Life - Windows 7
The Common Use standards used for passenger processing will not be supported on systems using the Windows 7 operating system as of January 14, 2020.
Read the Common Use Windows 7 - End of Life document.
It is urgent that all parties migrate systems from Windows 7 to a current supported operating system, such as Windows 10 to maintain flight operations at airports, and to reduce risks and costs of security breaches.
End of Life - Windows XP
The Common Use standards used for passenger processing will not be supported on systems using the Windows XP operating system.
It is urgent that all parties migrate systems from Windows XP to a current supported operating system, such as Windows 10 to maintain flight operations at airports, and to reduce risks and costs of security breaches.
U.S. DOT rule on kiosk accessibility
Airlines, airports and service providers need to be aware of the U.S. DOT final rule on kiosk accessibility that became effective on December 12, 2013.
The rule requires that:
- All airlines must ensure that all proprietary and common use kiosks installed on or after December 12, 2016 that they own, lease or control at U.S. and Canadian airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements meet detailed accessibility design standards until a total of at least 25% of each type of the kiosk provided at each location in the airport meet these standards. At least 25% of kiosks in each location at a U.S. airport must be accessible by December 12, 2022 and by December 31, 2022 for Canadian airports.
- All airlines in addition to U.S./Canadian airports must ensure that accessible kiosks are visually and tactile identifiable and maintained in working condition
- All airlines must give priority access to accessible kiosks to passengers with disabilities
- All airlines must provide equivalent service to passengers who cannot use accessible kiosks that airlines own, lease or control due to disability
The U.S. DOT will be conducting onsite inspections to see that the rule has been enforced appropriately.
Beginning with IATA CUSS version 1.4, the standard and technical specifications provide the necessary framework to enable current accessibility standards. Airlines, airports and vendors should maintain an ongoing compliance plan to meet accessibility requirements and are strongly recommended to document all efforts.
For information, the rule also covers two other elements of airline website accessibility and wheelchair stowage that are not related to common use activities.
View the Canadian Transport Association official information on Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities.
View the official Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council.
Latest CUPPS features
Although CUPPS already allows the use of mobile devices, Wi-Fi networks and even remote access for airlines to airport peripherals, the following new features are included in the CUPPS 1.04 specification which was finalized in December 2014:
- It is possible to use CUPPS with a baggage drop device that operates in a common use environment. The baggage drop device has the status of "Defined, Required" in the latest CUPPS 1.04 specification and can be implemented based on the IATA Technical Peripheral Specifications (ITPS) version 2019.
- A snapshot reader device is also defined and allows taking snapshot photos on a conveyor belt in the case of a baggage drop device or any other area as required. It can also return a picture from any full-page scanner used for passports or biometric devices.
- Self boarding gates are now "Defined, Required" in CUPPS instead of being just optional.
- An electronic payment device simply allows full bi-directional data exchange of any nature to facilitate future integration with a generic payment module.
- Simulated hardware can now be used to facilitate platform compliance for complex devices such as baggage drop and electronic payment.
While new features were added, part of the work concentrated on streamlining the existing specification. For example, a simpler way has been put in place for airlines to do host printing. Other devices such as beep and display devices were marked as obsolete as they are no longer used as separate devices. Certain hardware requirements were also modified to ease various cloud and virtualized deployments.
Common Use Evolution
The whole passenger process has changed and continues to evolve. There is now an expectation on airports and airlines to provide passengers with multi-channel self-service and accessible capabilities (i.e. web, kiosk, mobile phone, auto check-in, self-tagging, self-bag drop, self-boarding, etc.). At the same time, there is a need to maintain legacy infrastructure to continue to provide full-service options for some passengers.
The Common Use Group had developed the following vision in order to have a more flexible infrastructure and improve the customer experience: “Common use will provide flexibility of choice to deploy services based on interfaces adhering to industry standards”
These interfaces will range from Web Services, Cloud computing and mobile devices through to standard desktop offerings.
Whether platforms are physical or virtual, there will be standard interfaces presented to the application so that the concept, first introduced by CUPPS and CUSS, of "certify on one platform, run on many" will remain as a core principle.
Card Payment at Common Use Positions
There is an increasing demand for guidance on what are the desirable components of a solution that would support the "multi-merchants/multi-acquirers" business model of common use positions at airports which are shared by several airlines.
A Business Requirement Document (pdf) was put together providing recommendations that airports and airlines should consider when drawing up their own business requirements. These business requirements do not recommend any technology or provider and only seek to establish the key components of an effective industry card payment for this specific environment.
For more information about Common Use, see the below resources:
- Common Use Strategy (pdf)
- Common Use Fact Sheet (pdf)
- Airports, airlines and consultants preparing a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the supply of CUPPS are advised to take into account the considerations contained in the CUPPS RFP Guidance Document (pdf)
- Common Use Local Board (CLUB) Terms of Reference (pdf)
- IATA Technical Peripheral Specifications (ITPS) brief (pdf)
- BCBP Implementation Guide - Version 7 (pdf)
- Windows 7 – End of Life (pdf)
- Card Payment at Common Use Positions (pdf)
Building on its expertise and with the support of the Common Use Group members, IATA has developed a range of products including implementation guides and technical specifications.
Formerly known as the Association of European Airlines (AEA) Technical Specifications
The Association of European Airlines (AEA) was a trade body that was the voice of the European airline industry for over 60 years. AEA, as an organization, has ceased existence in 2016.
In 2018, IATA acquired the former AEA Technical Specification Standards and created the ITPS Technical Solutions Group (ITPS TSG), under the governance of the Common Use Group (CUG), which has since maintained these standards. Read the IATA Technical Peripheral Specifications (ITPS) brief here (pdf).
The ITPS publication describes all exchanges of Departure Control Systems (DCS) to device communication as well as all device responses supporting Boarding Pass Printer (ATB), Baggage Tag Printers (BTP), Boarding Gate Readers, Self Boarding Gates (BGR and E-Gates), Self Baggage Drop (SBD) and Scale Device (SD).
Current version of the ITPS publication is version 2019 which included the following key changes:
- New item for Bag Tag Printer (BTP)
- Extended Auto RFID for User Memory
- Enhanced Bag Tag Printer (BTP) and Baggage Radio Frequency (BRF) device
- Enhanced Baggage Radio Frequency (BRF) device
ITPS publication is available on the IATA store.