Checking In? Check-Out The Latest Options And Dodge The Queues
LENGTHY airport queues could soon be a relic of the past as the aviation industry moves to overhaul check-in systems and requirements.
Airlines throughout the world have turned their attention to the humble airport check-in counter to deliver time-saving new benefits to travellers and, in some instances, to shift customers from face-to-face to online services.
Flight Centre Limited executive general manager of marketing Colin Bowman said innovations like self service kiosks were now common place at major airports and a host of other innovations were on the way.
“Major changes have taken place in recent years to streamline the check-in process and there’s no sign of any slowdown in the future,” Mr Bowman said.
“While some changes are designed to encourage travellers to do it themselves, others are geared towards improving service, eliminating queues and fast-tracking what can be a time consuming process.
“For example, today you can dodge airport queues by checking in for flights at Caribbean resorts, Las Vegas casinos, via facebook or simply by displaying your smart phone or swiping your Qantas card.”
To help travellers understand the new airport order, Flight Centre has checked-out 10 of the latest developments in airport check-in …
1) Smart phones
Airlines have been quick to capitalize on the popularity of smart phones, with many now allowing travellers to access boarding passes from blackberries, I-phones and other similar devices.
2) Paid airport check-in
Face-to-face service at the airport check-in counter can now come at a price.
Some low cost carriers have introduced charges for airport check-in, including Tiger Airways and Jetstar in Australia.
Tiger charges domestic passengers $12.50 if they pre-pay online or $30 if they take the traditional route of simply turning up at the counter before their flight.
Early this year, Malaysia Airlines launched its MHbuddy application. The application, accessed from Malaysia Airlines’ Facebook page, allows users to check-in for flights while sharing trip details with their social network.
4) Curbside Check-in
In many airports, particularly in the United States, there’s no need to lug your luggage through a packed terminal.
You can simply pull up curbside, hand the required documents and your bags to dedicated airline check-in staff (also known as Skycaps) at the front of the terminal and proceed “luggage-less” to the security areas.
Delta Airlines’ Skycaps service is now available at some 100 US locations.
5) Next generation check-in
Qantas has pioneered a new check-in system that eliminates the need for printed documents.
New Qantas cards with intelligent Q chips have just been sent to the airline’s Platinum, Gold and Silver Frequent Flyer members. To check-in, travellers simply touch the cards at Q Card Readers.
6) City check-in
Etihad is one of several airlines that now allows passengers to check-in in the heart of the city before travelling to the airport.
Etihad passengers can check-in at dedicated city facilities in Abu Dhabi or Dubai up to 24 hours before departure.
Passengers leave bags at the facilities for transfer to the airport, collect boarding passes and make the most of their free time in the city, rather than at the airport.
Travellers can also check-in at various rail stations throughout the world, including Hong Kong, Kowloon and London’s Paddington stations.
7) Hit the jackpot with casino check-in
Virgin Atlantic passengers can take advantage of “off airport” services in Las Vegas.
The service allows travellers to check-in at six central locations, including the plush Luxor, Venetian, MGM Grand and Palazzo hotels.
According to Virgin, the service is “just like checking in for a flight at the airport, but without the airport”.
“The next time you will see your luggage is when you arrive at London Gatwick so you can have more time to try and win your fortune, relax by the pool or even get married”!
8) Beach check-in
Virgin Atlantic also allows guests to check-in at some Caribbean resorts.
The beach check-in facilities allow travellers to drop off luggage, receive boarding passes and then relax by the pool, before proceeding to the airport just prior to departure.
9) Check-in lounges
Malaysia Airlines has just launched its Frontend Check-in Lounge, a premium check-in facility at KL International Airport.
The lounge service is available to first and business class passengers, frequent flyers and members of the Enrich Platinum Loyalty program and allows airline staff and travellers “to interact in a classier, friendlier and cosier atmosphere”.
10) Twilight check-in
Sick of the early morning rush to the airport with suitcases in tow?
Virgin Atlantic allows travellers flying from London’s Gatwick Airport to check-in between noon and 9pm the day before departure.
This option allows passengers to make their way to security the following day with a minimum of hassle and is ideal for those leaving on early morning flights.