My thoughts on self-service check-in

The past few years has seen many airlines introduce self-serve check in kiosks (SSK’s) at the airport, which allows passengers to check-in, print off their boarding pass and tag their own bags before dropping it off at the bag drop desk. Well, those clunky kiosks with an outdated front-end system are on the verge of being sent to the historical archives for good.

A number of airlines have recently implemented a completely self-service check in experience; which includes the bag drop facility. This of course is regarded as a fantastic innovation that has been designed to enhance the customer experience. A prime example of this would be easyJet’s relatively new check-in area in the North Terminal at London Gatwick; where you’ll find dozens of these fully automated self-service machines. They are sleek, modern and very simple to use.

I will not be the first to admit there is a part of me who misses the old-fashioned method of walking up to the desk and interacting with an real human being for a few minutes. It’s worth noting that a few staff members are floating around as “hosts” to aid, but the self-service kiosks aid the airline and airport authority in an expedited process through increased efficiency, which helps to keep waiting times to a minimum. So that’s a good thing, right?

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 aiding 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.

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 person? As long as the kiosks don’t start talking back and saying “unexpected item in the bag drop area”. I think I might just about cope.


Yes, I’m looking at you old-fashioned SSK machine!


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