Paper is out, and high-tech tickets resembling credit cards are in for the 2009-10 season at Aspen Ski Area, according to Skico. The new lift tickets will be similar in size and firmness to a credit card. They will be read by the Skico’s radio frequency (RF) gates, which will be in extensive use throughout the four ski areas.
The gates are designed to speed the flow of skiers and riders through lift lines. Instead of getting scanned by a lift attendant, all customers will pass through the gates which automatically scan the ticket or pass.
The Skico had 24 gates at the four ski areas last season. The number was increased to 42 for the coming season. Last winter, passes could be read by the gates but not lift tickets.
The new tickets will be reusable, “reloadable” and refundable. At the end of the vacation, the skier can keep the card as a memento or return it and get refunded for a $5 deposit. The same tickets can be used in future seasons. Eventually, consumers will be able to load them online, but the technology is not available yet for this coming season.
The radio frequency lift ticket is used extensively in Europe, which explains the funny little pockets on the upper arm of many ski jackets. It is in full use at a handful of small U.S. resorts and partially at some larger resorts such as Vail.