Airline Counter check-in
Checking in for a flight at the airline counter continues to be the most popular choice amongst passengers, especially for those travelling internationally, although the number of travelers using this service is reducing steadily. Counter sign-in involves locating the correct service desks for the particular airline and flight and presenting tickets, e-tickets or booking references to a member of staff who will also check identification (a passport is required if travelling internationally).
If checking luggage, bags will be parted with here after being weighed and tagged. Any charges for luggage or upgrades can be paid for during that time. Seat and meal preferences can also be communicated during counter sign-in. Boarding passes will be printed and issued, allowing passengers to head straight to their flight upon completion of the procedure.
The advantage of going to the airline counter upon arrival for the passenger is that it is all parts of the process occur at the service desk, while the disadvantage is that there may be long queues which can prove to be inconvenient and frustrating. Airline counters are ideal for those who do not feel comfortable using more modern check-in procedures, such as kiosks, as well as for those with luggage and those whose airline does not offer the options below.
Curbside check-in is quite similar to that at the counter, in that the process takes place at a service desk and is conducted by a member of staff. However, the major difference is that these service desks are located at points on the airport concourse, close to entrances and vehicle drop-off zones. The check-in procedure is much the same as counter procedure, but allows passengers to sign in and drop off bags before even stepping foot inside the airport, giving them total freedom once they do step through the entrance.
Charges for upgrades and baggage can be paid curbside, though payments are usually only accepted by credit card. Seat and meal preferences can be communicated as with counter check-in. The advantage of curbside registration is that boarding passes can be printed and issued there and then allowing travelers the option to head straight for their flight upon entering the airport, and there are likely to be fewer queues for using this service.
For the tech-savvy traveler, online check-in is often the preferred method as it can ensure a complete lack of queuing at the airport. Online flight registration can usually be undertaken up to a maximum of 24 hours prior to flight departure time from any computer with access to the internet and a printer. Airport hotels often have on-site services especially for this purpose.
When going online, seat and meal preferences can be selected, and any charges can usually be made via credit card. When the process is completed, boarding passes can be printed and simply presented when prompted at the airport security desks. This option is particularly suited to passengers who are exclusively carrying hand luggage. Travelers wishing to check baggage will need to locate a baggage drop desk inside the airport to have bags weighed and tagged. Unfortunately, there may be a queue for this service.
Kiosk check-in is similar to online, but is undertaken at a dedicated computer terminal located within the airport. By entering a booking reference or scanning a valid travel ticket, the procedure can be completed at the kiosk by following the on screen instructions. The machine is capable of printing and issuing boarding passes. This option is great for avoiding long lines for counter check-in, but if checking in luggage passengers will need to stop at the baggage drop desks where queues may be encountered. Using a Kiosk is an ideal option for those travelling with hand luggage only, and for those who do not have computer access.