Curbside check-in is becoming increasingly popular with airlines and airports throughout the world, offering convenience to passengers.
But what is curbside check-in? Quite simply, curbside check-in is just that - when you arrive at an airport prior to your flight, you are able to check-in before even stepping foot inside the airport with the assistance of dedicated airport staff, or 'Skycaps'. The idea of outside-terminal check-in is to take the existing online-check-in procedures one step further and help to not only make the process quicker for the customer but also reduce the amount of time travelers are spending in the pre-security area. It is far more financially beneficial to airlines and airports if travelers are spending more time emptying their wallets in on-site restaurants and duty free shops and less time stood in queues.
The curbside check-in process is designed to be as simple as possible. Airports position their staff at airport 'drop off zones' and all the work is done there and then. You will need to present an acceptable form of identification (including a passport if travelling internationally) as well as your booking confirmation or e-ticket if you have booked the flight via the internet.
Most drop-off check-ins have the advantage that they offer the same level of service as you would receive at a check-in desk, meaning that you will be able to register your seating preferences and dietary requirements, as well as pay for any upgrades or baggage fees. Usually, curbside check-in will also have a facility for printing boarding passes, allowing you to head straight for your flight once your check-in is confirmed.
An advantage of curbside check-in over in-line check-in is that in most instances you are able to hand your luggage over to the Skycaps who will take your bags to be checked in, meaning you don't need to spend time roaming the airport trying to find the baggage drop desk and waiting in a queue, when the main benefit of checking in your luggage at the curb is to enable travelers to avoid any unnecessary queuing.
A further advantage of sidewalk check-in over airline-counter check-in is that by choosing this option, you are confirming you have arrived at the airport in time for your flight, and are checking in with a member of staff as opposed to a computer system.
An increasing number of airlines are now offering this service, including American Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue United and Southwest Airlines, in addition to numerous international airlines. These airlines offer curbside check-in for free, but will charge for any baggage that you decide the check in - typically 2 USD per bag. Make sure you have your credit cards at the ready, because sidewalk check-in systems will only accept plastic, not cash, traveler’s cheques or any other form of payment. Keep in mind that Skycaps generally work for tips, so gratuities are appreciated for good service.
If your chosen airport and airline offer this curbside check-in process, you can expect it to be in operation during the same hours that the standard check-in desks for your particular flight will be open. Typically, this will be from 2 hours to 30 minutes before your flight time, but please check this information with your chosen carrier as times will vary between airline and destination.