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455 ELRS and 455 ECS drastically reduce check-in times at PAX terminal

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Justin Jacobs
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

The wait time for check-in at the passenger terminal at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan is going to be substantially shorter, thanks to a couple of Airmen that recognized a flawed process and decided to do something about it.

The newly designed “Virtual Check-In” sharepoint site allows BAF unit travel representatives to check their squadron members into Intra-Theater flights 24 hours in advance.

“In the old days, when passengers came to the check-in counter they would give their ID cards to the terminal agent, and the agent would manually put in all of their information on the spot,” said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Abiera, 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, contracting officer representative. “This process took up to five minutes or more per passenger.”

During the traditional relief-in-place/transfer of authority periods when hundreds of Airmen are redeploying at a single time, this meant the process required passengers to arrive at the terminal up to six hours prior to departure. That time is now reduced to one hour.

For the past two years, the passenger terminal agents haven’t used XMAN, which is a spreadsheet with all of the passengers’ information that is compatible with importing into the Global Air Transportation Execution System.

But with the help of the 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron, the PAX terminal brought XMAN back to life via the sharepoint website, although there were struggles along the way.

“The biggest challenge we encountered was making sure that all of the information recorded into the sharepoint site would successfully transfer into GATES,” said Senior Airman Najse Foster, 455th ECS knowledge manager. “We had no one who knew how an XMAN was supposed to be formatted, so we had to jump through hoops to find the correct formatting.”

Foster stated that they weren’t having much luck with GATES helpdesk finding out the right format to use, so they eventually started experimenting with different inputs into GATES until it accepted the file.

“Once all the bugs were worked out, and with the help of the 455th ECS, we conducted a test run,” said Abiera. “After the test run, and then comparing the two systems, to much relief, the new process cut check-in time from five minutes down to a matter of seconds.”

According to Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Guzman, 455th ELRS chief enlisted manager, creating the process was only half the battle. It also took a little bit of relationship building and teamwork.

“Along with the format issues, we also had to convince some of the passenger terminal agents, who were accustomed with using the old legacy procedures, that the newly designed system would drastically improve the operations,” said Guzman.

Not long after the agents saw the benefits of the new system, they were ready to implement it.

“The main push behind this was innovation was to save our Airmen time and to further refine our operations,” said Guzman. “Since our team’s arrival back in October, we have made it a point to be relentless about looking for ways to improve our unit and the way we do business. We want to leave processes in place that will make life easier for the upcoming rotations and that could potentially be implemented in other U.S.  Air Force Central Command locations.”