Airports, experience is everything: Check-in and Validation

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Anyone who has travelled by plane in the past 10 years will know how much easier the check-in process has become. Gone are the winding queues when you don’t even have any hold luggage (though they are still sometimes around when you do). The check-in processes – where a passenger confirms their presence to an airline – has migrated online as airlines have realised the time, management and of course cost that can be avoided. In addition to the benefits for the airlines, that’s resulted in increased convenience and efficiency for the passengers.

Apart from the time saving, online check-in also reduces ‘fly-day stress’. Waking up early to finish packing, forgetting your passport, getting to the airport and dealing with train delays or traffic, only to leave the ground in a flying cylinder full of technology, it’s understandable many people get travel anxiety! Checking-in online gives you one less thing to remember and worry about, and some airlines (such as EasyJet) even allow check-in up to a month before the flight. It also gives control to the customer by allowing them to pick their own seats in the process, before all the extra legroom or window seats are taken!

Online check-in itself has evolved since being introduced in 1999 by Alaska Air. It is now indispensable to low-cost airlines and Ryanair even charges passengers a fee of up to £45 for not using online check-in! The process now reflects the modern mobile-phone-using passenger such as not having to print off the boarding pass means you have one less thing to carry. Most airlines with a mobile app, such as British Airways and United Airlines, are also integrated with Passbook on iOS which makes it easy to give people a personalised QR-code for scanning as your boarding pass. This code also appears on your lock-screen according to your location and time, so you don’t have to scramble around and open the app to get it out.

An even newer type of check-in is now starting to appear in big towns and cities, especially popular in Eastern Asia. Certain airlines, like Korean Air and Asiana Airlines, have check-in spots in convenient locations in-town such as at train and tube stations. This allows passengers to check-in and send away their luggage before they arrive at the airport, so they can travel burden free.

Checking-in at the airport certainly still exists, but even this has become easier as airlines introduce self-service check-in machines where you input your own details. Changi Airport in Singapore and Melbourne Airport were some of the first to trial them, and in addition to printing off your boarding pass, they can also give you bag tags for dropping off your luggage. SITA, an air transport IT provider forecasted that by 2017 around 85% of airports would have the majority of their passengers using self-service check-in machines.

Flying has never been quicker and easier so next time when checking-in, don’t forget to check-out if your airline has a mobile app to save you some ‘fly-day stress’!