(6:10 p.m. AEST) -- Cruise passengers can now check in for Virgin Australia flights and drop off their bags at Sydney's cruise terminals. According to the airline, it's the first in the world to introduce a pop-up check-in service.
The service was created by Off Airport Check-in Solutions (OACIS) using Amadeus' cloud technology to work remotely with Virgin's check-in and baggage system.
Virgin Australia Airlines group executive Rob Sharp is hoping to further streamline its check-in operations and reduce waiting time at the airport. He says travellers disembarking from Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal and White Bay Cruise Terminal will be able to check in and drop their luggage once their ship has docked, giving them the freedom to explore the city bag-free, before taking off to their next destination.
"Over 1.5 million passengers are transported to and from Sydney by cruise ship in peak season and many of those who disembark at Sydney's cruise terminals then fly to another destination," says Sharp.
"As well as offering travellers the secure and convenient transportation of luggage straight to the airport, waiting time will be reduced, allowing customers to head straight to the departure gate."
The Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, describes the new service as a win for Australia's $5.3 billion cruise industry, of which NSW holds 58 per cent of the market share. This year's cruise season will see a record-breaking 350 cruise ships visit Sydney.
Virgin Australia plans to explore future opportunities to implement the service at new locations around its network following the completion of the initial pilot program.
--By Carla Grossetti, Cruise Critic contributor