The future of Self Service Check In

Over the past few years we have seen the introduction of self-serve check in kiosks at many airports, which allows passengers to check-in, print off their boarding pass and bag tags before dropping it off at the bag drop desk. That however may be on the verge of change.

What’s Happening

A number of airlines have recently implemented a¬†self-service check in experience for the bulk of their passengers; which includes the bag drop facility. Of course this is a fantastic innovation that has been designed to enhance the customer experience. But I admit there is a part of me who misses the old-fashioned method of walking up to the desk and interacting with an actual human being. It’s worth noting that staff members would still be around to assist, but the self service kiosks aid the airport and airline in speeding up the process through increased efficiency, which helps to keep waiting times to a minimum.

What Does It Mean For Travellers?

For the millennial traveller like me, I have no problem with using a completely self-service kiosk to check in for my flight; but I do have concerns for those who are not as familiar with technology. If all available staff members are busy assisting other passengers, what happens to the few who are at a kiosk and are having some technical difficulties? I can assure you there is by no means an even ratio of staff members to kiosks – and during a power failure I can only imagine how long the lines might be at the one or two traditional desks that remain.

A Few Thoughts

What do you think of a completely automated self serve check in experience? Does this appeal to you, or are you someone who would prefer to interact with an actual human being? As long as the kiosks don’t start talking and saying “unexpected item in the bag drop area”. I think I might just about cope.

That being said, if an airline decided self-service was the way forward and abolish all full-service desks, what would happen? I think that many passengers would miss the personal interaction between the agent and the passenger, where there is usually a conversation or two. With self-service, a machine can hardly build up rapport in the same way, right?

So what do you think? Would an airline be bold enough to go completely self-service at check-in?

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2 Comments

  1. It’s great if you know what you are an experienced traveler….but if not I think it actually slows things down. I was coming back from Orlando on American Airlines and watched a Brazilian tour group w/ about 100 people try and all use the kiosks. It was a cluster of epic proportions. I was lucky to have a carry-on so could breeze right by them….but that group probably ground the checkin area to a complete halt.

    I think going completely self service would be a bad idea. You need to have people on the ground for when things go wrong.

  2. Yeah, they should have people around for when things go wrong, definitely. But I love kiosks and self check out for the very reason you dislike them: they help me avoid nonsense small talk and just take care of what I need.

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