Monday, November 8, 2010

Am I checked in?


Due to the times in which we live the air travel industry changes very rapidly on a daily basis.



There was a time when air travelers would purchase paper tickets from a travel agent or ticket agent. Then they would take their paper tickets and check-in with an agent for a boarding pass. There were one or two ways to check-in for a flight.

Today, the technology advances have changed the check-in process. There are more ways to check-in for a flight now. One can use a computer, cellphone, or other handheld device to visit an airline website, for example www.aa.com. You can check -in for your flight up to 24 hours in advance. The latest a passenger can check-in is usually an hour prior to their flight departure time. Every airline is different so check their website or call customer service.

You can also check-in at the airport on a Self-Service machine or kiosk. Some airports have these machines. It a computer screen that is similar to the check-out machine at a grocery store or a bank ATM. You touch the screen and swipe your mileage card, credit card or passport to get your electronic flight reservation.

Checking-in for your flight allows you select a language for instructions, to get your boarding pass, change your seat, check your luggage, add your mileage account number. Some airline websites have tutorials on how to use the Check-in Machines.
For example, go to www.aa.com then look for the search box at the top of the page. Enter the words "check-in tutorial". This will take you the webpage Traveler Information FAQs- Self-Service Check-in. There is advice on airline websites to help you get checked-in faster. They can be a great resource of information.

If you are elderly or not comfortable with computers, ask a family member or a friend to help you get checked-in for your flight and print your boarding pass. This is a good idea if you rarely fly.

Some airports have curb-side check-in. You pull your car up to the departures area at the airport. You unload your luggage and a skycap helps you by checking you in, tagging your luggage and giving you your boarding pass. Then you have one line left which is the security line. This service is great for those who can't deal with computers.

The airports are busy with passengers now because the holiday travel season is coming. The increase in the number of passengers and noise can be overwhelming. I have worked a customer service agent, ticket agent, gate agent, and a baggage handler. I have seen passengers get confused and stand in the wrong lines for  hours. Some people just cannot figure out how to get to their bags checked or their tickets changed.

Ask ! Ask! Ask!
1. Are you a customer service agent?
2. Is this the line to check my luggage?
3. Is this the line to change my ticket?
4. Is there another line which is shorter?
5. Where are other self-service check-in machines located?

Tip: American Airlines at O'Hare Airport has Self-Service Check-in machines located at the baggage claim level. Passengers rarely use these machines. If you are taking the blue line to the airport, stop at the baggage claim level to grab your boarding pass if you only have carry-on luggage. Then go up one more level to get in the security line.

If you can, guide your elderly family members or friends in using the self-service machine, checking-in their luggage, guide them to the security line. Share with them the info on the airline website. Talk with them about the changes in flying. So that they will be more comfortable with the process.

See you in the air!