Curbside Check-in as Time Saver
The US has long-established check-in practices from an off-airport location, where passengers have been open to paying a convenience fee to check-in, have their bags dropped off and their boarding passes hand-delivered – processes which fast-track them to the departure gate and avoid queues at the ticket counter.
Orlando-based Bags (Baggage Airline Guest Services), a provider of remote skycap services in the US, is looking to expand the scope of its service to cruise ships travelling to Europe, as well as European Air Ports like Copenhagen, Barcelona and London this year, then more cities will follow. Five Airport Express stations in Hong Kong already offer the service from a convenient in-town check-in desk.
The Curbside Check-in Type
The people who were most enthusiastic about curbside check-in fell roughly into a few categories. There were those travelling with kids (especially small kids). And there were also those who, for a variety of reasons, were travelling with a lot of stuff. The broadest group was anyone in a hurry—that included the chronically late, frequent travellers trying to minimize transit, and anyone who had battled traffic on the way to the airport. And finally, there were the people with mobility issues, who appreciated that the distance between car and bag drop could be measured in mere feet.
The Pros and Cons of Curbside Check-in
Aside from the time savings, the biggest benefits people cited was the possibility that they could interact with an airline employee in a relatively good mood. Whether it’s the fresh air or the possibility of a tip with each interaction, skycaps just seem to be in a better mood than their inside-counter brethren, swore many curbside check-in partisans.
The downside, of course, is cost. Some airlines still offer free curbside check-in, but others charge $3 per bag (that’s of course, in addition to the standard baggage fees). And whether you pay or not, tipping is an expected part of the skycap exchange.
American: American offers curbside check-in at
nearly 20 airports. There are no additional fees to check baggage curbside, though tipping is encouraged.
Delta: Delta has curbside check-in at around 100 locations. No fee, but “gratuities are always appreciated for outstanding service.”
JetBlue: JetBlue offers curbside check-in at two dozen U.S. airports, and charges $3 per bag checked curbside. Cash isn’t accepted for payment, but it’s fine for tipping.
Southwest: Curbside check-in is available at four of the airports served by Southwest: Boston, Orlando, San Juan, and Tampa. The airline says that “We do not charge a fee for this service, although gratuities are accepted.”
United: Curbside check-in is available on United for no additional cost at airports with skycaps.