Chris Moss Online

A Traveling Question

Today I received an e-mail from American Airlines, advising me of all the “new” ways I can check in for my upcoming flight. It’s a marketing thing, and of course a tool to educate their customers about the do-it-yourself (DIY) options for checking in so they can have fewer employees at airports (ticket agents, gate agents and the like). I’m all in favor of this, and all the ways they told me I could check in are not really new. Since I travel a bit, I’m already aware of the self-service check-in kiosks in the airport, or that I can print my boarding pass at home up to 24 hrs before I leave for the airport.

You can even check-in by telephone, but you would still have to either already have previously printed your receipt so you can clear security, or you’d have to get your boarding pass at the kiosk at the airport. I don’t see this as a particularly good way to do it regularly, but could come in handy if you’re running a bit late and will just barely make the flight but you need to check in so they don’t give your seat away.

I don’t often need to check a bag, and when I do I usually see a ticket agent or use the self-service kiosk. In days past, after you checked in with the ticket agent, they would place your checked luggage onto a conveyor belt behind them, which takes luggage into the system and routed to your plane. In our post-9/11 world, after you check in with the agent and they put the tags with the destination airport code on your bag, you have to take it youself over to the TSA inspection area. Although you’re usually not obligated to, if I have time I like to watch until they run my luggage through the big machine and put it on the conveyor belt. I think that cuts down on the chance of lost luggage. As mentioned, I rarely check luggage but in my entire travelling life my luggage has been lost only twice.

The AA e-mail also encouraged the use of curbside luggage drop-off. Even if you’re checking bags, AA wants you to use online check-in and then drop your bags off with the skycaps. I’m not sure what the benefit is of checking yourself in when the skycap still has to pull up your reservation in order to print off your baggage tags.

Here’s the part I don’t understand: if you drop your bags off curbside, who takes them to the TSA screening area?

I just see that as an extra possibility of getting your bags lost. Am I missing something?

Current mood: amused
Current music: “Come Fly With Me” – Michael Buble

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