Checking bags is a pain. We admit it. We have noticed a trend over the last several years…fewer and fewer checked bags. People prefer to carry-on as much as they can fit in hopes of not having to check a bag. Of course, there is a fee for checking baggage, but that’s not the real turnoff for most people. It’s the wait. Checking a bag at the ticket counter takes extra time, slowing the check-in process for everyone. This may be changing.
United Airlines is beginning to roll out self-service bag checking. The airline is currently offering the service at Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD). Passengers who so choose now have the option of printing their baggage tags at a kiosk where they can also pay for the checked bag(s). Bags will still need to be brought to an agent at the counter who will verify the passenger’s name and ID before sending the luggage on to screening and then to be loaded on the plane. American Airlines offers a similar service which it launched in 2013.
Using the automated system isn’t requisite, and the airline doesn’t expect that it will be. The option of checking bags at the ticket counter is still available, but United hopes that passengers will opt for the self-service option as it can lead to a 15-30 percent increase in efficiency at the ticket counter, according to Ken Bostock, managing director of airport strategy at United.
“All around, it should be a better use of everybody’s time,” Bostock said.
The United ticket lobby at O’Hare has 24 kiosks which can issue boarding passes, check in passengers, and print luggage tags. Currently, the fee is $25 per bag to check with United. There is no fee or discount for using the self-serve option. This service is not yet available at NorthwestFlorida Regional Airport (VPS).
What do you think; are self-serve baggage check-in kiosks a time-saver or just a way for airlines to cut back on one-on-one customer service? Let us know on Facebook.