Online (internet) Check-in
Airport check-in uses service counters found at commercial airports handling commercial air travel. The check-in is normally handled by an airline or a handling agent working on behalf of an airline. Passengers usually hand over any baggage that they do not wish or are not allowed to carry-on to the aircraft’s cabin and receive a boarding pass before they can proceed to board their aircraft. Check-in is usually the first procedure for a passenger when arriving at an airport, as airline regulations require passengers check-in by certain times prior to the departure of a flight. This duration spans from 30 min to 4 h depending on the destination and airline. During this process, the passenger has the ability to ask for special accommodations such as seating preferences, inquire about flight or destination information, make changes to reservations, accumulate frequent flyer program miles, or pay for upgrades.
Online check-in is the process in which passengers confirm their presence on a flight via the internet and typically print their own boarding passes. Depending on the carrier and the specific flight, passengers may also enter details such as meal options and baggage quantities and select their preferred seating. This service is generally promoted by the airlines to passengers as being easier and faster because it avoids the need to queue at the airport check-in counter (but passengers with bags to check in still need to queue up and, for international flights, present their identification); furthermore, online check-in for a flight is often available earlier than its in-person counterpart. The process then transfers to passengers the control over their check-in. Airlines may use the system because self-service is frequently more efficient to operate, with a greater ability to cope with surges in passenger numbers. It also lessens activity at the airport, saving airlines money and reducing passenger waiting times. Ryanair charges passengers a fee for not using online check-in, except in certain limited circumstances. Furthermore, by the start of 2010, all passengers were required to check in online, therefore abolishing the use of check-in desks. Alaska Airlines was the first to offer online check-in. The system was first offered on a limited basis starting in September 1999 and was available to the general public on selected flights a month later. Since then, a growing number of airlines have introduced the system. Typically, web based check-in for airline travel is offered on the airline’s website not earlier than 24 hours before a flight’s scheduled departure or 7 days for Internet Check-In Assistant. However, some airlines allow a longer time, such as Ryanair which opens online checkin 14 days beforehand. Depending on the airline, there can be benefits of better seating or upgrades to first/business class offered to the first people to check-in for a flight. In order to meet this demand, some sites have offered travelers the ability to request an airline check-in prior to the 24 hour window and receive airline boarding passes by email when available from the airline.
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