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Why Does Check-in Take So Long?  
User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Posted (11 years 4 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3923 times:

I fill my name, address, phone number, seat assignment (where available), and yet check-in always seems to take ages. Why is that? What are they doing besides weighing your bags, printing boarding passes, etc? Some seem to take far longer than others too.

Just curious.

Geoff M.

19 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineWilco From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 355 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (11 years 4 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3899 times:

To the CS agent's defense: When you check-in, your PNR is often a mess thanks to the initial reservation agent. (maybe the fare changed and they have to override it so you aren't affected, maybe the only seat available is locked and must be released first, maybe your eticket doesn't match your reservation, etc.) Most of the times it is the fault of crappy unfriendly computer programs and not the fault of the agent. Of course there are always exceptions to that rule...

"Ever seen a grown man naked?"
User currently offlineContinental From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 5550 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (11 years 4 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3894 times:

Check-in at MSP takes 2 minutes. When I go to the machine, I press a few buttons, slide a card, and hand bag to a lady. At the counter, I give ticket, she looks over it, asks some questions, takes the bag, and I'm on my way, that probably takes about 3 minutes.


User currently offlineFinnWings From Finland, joined Oct 2003, 640 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (11 years 4 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3882 times:


I don't know the answer for your question, but have you ever tried check-in at Punta Cana (PUJ) in Dominican Republic or at Koh Samui (USM) in Thailand...? There check-in takes really a very looooooong time as it is done manually!  Smile But both are extremely nice aiports anyway...!  Big thumbs up


User currently offlineKKMolokai From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 760 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (11 years 4 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3876 times:

A lot of passengers are clueless and unprepared when they check in. They seem to show up at the airport, without a clue as to what flight they're on, what time they're departing, and/or where they're going to. Its amazing.

Others have ticketing issues, immigration issues, security issues, passport/visa issues, etc. Also, those traveling internationally take longer to check in. Most international passengers have paper tickets, are connecting to other carriers, in which the agent has to marry the two flight itineraries in order to check their luggage to their final destination, scan their passports, check for visas, and capture emergency contact info.

We are the people of American Airlines. And we know why you fly.
User currently offlineFLYtoEGCC From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 947 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (11 years 4 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3861 times:

Do you have any particular examples? I've never used an airline that uses machines or kiosks, but I've never had a problem checking in - even doing it all manually, we're talking 3-4 minutes, and that's with a party of six (and about ten peoples' worth of overweight luggage.)

Come fly with me, let's fly, let's fly away...
User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (11 years 4 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3829 times:

Not really talking about other pax, many of who are indeed clueless ("oh, you mean I need a *ticket*?"), but my own experiences on fairly simple point-to-point itineraries with 1 checked bag.

I wander up with ticket and passport in hand, bag straight on the conveyer, ...and wait.

I can't really be more specific than that. It just seems to take forever, although in reality we're probably only talking 5 minutes max. There appears to be a lot of typing going on.

To be fair, hotel and car rental places seem to be the same - except DFW Hertz which took about 15 seconds!

Geoff M.

User currently offlineAccess-Air From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1940 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (11 years 4 months 2 days ago) and read 3802 times:

Yes KKMolokai, you said it....Most passengers are clueless and invariably forget everything they need to know or to bring....Such as proper identification...
You also have those people that choose to try and make a scene about something, ususally someone that thinks he's not getting the proper mileage credit or some people try to scam the agent into giving them upgrades with the improper amounts of miles (frequent flyers) Or any other Myriad of things.
I have always said that an airport is the perfect place to watch people become instant cattle wandering aimlessly knowing not what they are doing.
They all seem to space out...Even the ones that travel all the time.
Goeffm, there are too many reasons to explain why you cant get checked- in right away. It usually has to do with incompetent people on both side of the ticket counter. Try watching the A&E TV series called Airline....Discussed many many times on this forum. You will get a dose of the kind of crap that happens at the airports especially at check-in.
Actually I find more delays at the security checkpoints...Usually because once again, people ignore rules and regulations.....
One thing that I can tell you as a Travel Agent of 15 years, and that is....ALWAYS X One Million!!!!! Reconfirm your flights!!! That could be one of those unexpected delays that you encounter....Some one showing up 30 mins too late for flight that they had been booked on... And the airline decided to make a time schedule change. Happens far too frequently with most major airlines like United American Delta USair, etc....
So many reasons for delays.....And it will not end anytime soon.....If anything with all the new computer reliance of all airlines you can count on more crap happening to slow down the check in....
I liked it better the old manual paper ticket way.....Dare I say today's methods of check in and passenger handling is akin to leading cattle to the cattle car? Yes EVRY Airline.....


Remember, Wherever you go, there you are!!!!
User currently offlineTekelberry From United States of America, joined May 2003, 1459 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 3721 times:

If you use the kiosks, check-in should take a maximum of 5 minutes. If that's too long for you, web check-in takes about 1-2 minutes.

[Edited 2004-03-05 22:58:14]

User currently offlineJfernandez From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 304 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3657 times:

The biggest issue is that everyone else has huge issues. Most travellers (or people) aren't quite intelligent enough to know what to do.

Also, people who overpack cause more issues.

User currently offlineCVGpilot From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 588 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3646 times:

I travel the airlines and AMC a lot and never have any check in prob's "knock on wood" and AMC does not even have a Kiosks.

Globally Yours
User currently offlineA330Fan1 From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 856 posts, RR: 10
Reply 11, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 3632 times:

I have the same view as Continental

Check in for me usually takes a few minutes with the E-ticketing or whatever. You just buy a ticket online, go to the computers at the check in counter, choose a seat and everything, print out boarding pass, then pass through security and you're on your way! (if you just have carry-on) - otherwise, I think it will take some time to check in baggage.


User currently offlineBobb From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 246 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3554 times:

100% agree. The speed of the check-in is directly proportional to the passenger's cooperation. Clueless, "what do ya mean I need an ID?"

I use electronics kiost check-in whenever possible, my fingers are faster than my mouth + agent's mouth, 'nuff said.

If you HAFTA do human check-in, do this to speed things up:

Hand in valid, not expired ID (passport). Credit Card (some airline)

Tell agent, I am going BWI, via LAX. 8:30 a.m.
(this is actually alot quicker than handing him your small-font itinerary).
If you are comfortable enough, just say flight 777, but people just don't remember numbers, so Destination, Xfer, and time work best.

Put bags on scale and tell agent "2 bags to check" even BEFORE he has to ask you to do so.

Bottom line is, anticipate what the agents needs from you and cut down on the chatter, unless she's cute of course, then ignore all these [G].

Now if you gotta make any changes (yikes), or are checking in a funny item which arouses the agent's suspicion, well.....

User currently offlineAmerican757 From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 475 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 3534 times:

when, I was in DTW, I walked up, and she looked to see where I was going, asked my name, and printed the boarding pass, then proceeded to argue with me about my luggage since I was carrying on and she insisted that it would probably need to be checked, nope it didnt need to, she was just an @$$ because a 15 year old knew better.

User currently offlineGeoffm From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 2111 posts, RR: 6
Reply 14, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3462 times:

Thanks for all the *solutions* and why *other* people take time, but I only seem to have received one type of *answer*! That of having messed up reservations/bookings. Is that all there is to it?


Geoff M.

User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17326 posts, RR: 66
Reply 15, posted (11 years 4 months 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3442 times:

FinnWings said:
I don't know the answer for your question, but have you ever tried check-in at Punta Cana (PUJ) in Dominican Republic or at Koh Samui (USM) in Thailand...? There check-in takes really a very looooooong time as it is done manually! But both are extremely nice aiports anyway...!

These airports have no incentive to make it go faster. Few biz travellers that are in a hurry and little traffic. At a large int. airport, check-in can be very fast. 2 years ago my wife and I flew ARN-MUC-NCE on 23 December (never again). The departures hall was packed with people in long lines. But there were few biz travellers. So we just checked in with the machines. 30 seconds later... I didn't have the heart to tell all those poor people that you don't have to have a frequent flyer card to use the machines. SAS machines can read your normal ticket so there is no need to wait in line. Anyway off we went to the long line at security.

"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineBobb From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 246 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (11 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 3350 times:

Well, the only other major "technical" caused delay I can think of is that the industry's computer systems are antiquated. Any little thing out of ordinary, itinerary change, takes time. Ever wonder why the agent is typing away like a madman for a simple request?

You ought to be able to say, I want to pay this ticket with all the funds that I have available with you, and the agent pulls up this screen with all your account info in it right? No such luck. Airports' agents just don't have that kind of access, for whatever reason. So unless you bring all the account's information with you, we'll be doing find needle in a haystack and spending 1/2 hr with a single passenger.

Electronic tickets are easy, but paper tickets are something else. I know everybody here uses electronic ticketing, but paper ticketing is still around and being used. Basically paper tickets are totally manual labor, takes time.

And that's it.

User currently offlineAvianceGirlUK From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (11 years 4 months 21 hours ago) and read 3340 times:

Ok, listen to it from a check in agents point of view. Unlike Americans, the British have no clue sometimes of even where they are. They waltz up to check in, sometimes not even knowing if they have a ticket or a passport. They then decide that now is a good time to fill in their luggage labels when they have had plenty of time to realise they were flying. You must understand that us check in agents are human also and sometimes yes i admit, we can make mistakes. Also, our computers like the ones we have in front of us, are extremly tempromental, and when it refuses to work, there is nothing we can do as we are not all technicians (hard to beleive eh). A lot of the problems we also have is passengers complaining about certain seating arrangements, frequent flyer cards, special meals being ordered and god know whatever else. Also we find E-Tickets sometimes a complete nightmare depending on which airline you are flying with. If you are travelling on an E Ticket which is not in our system, then it takes time to sort it out.
I hope you now realise it from a Check in Agents side. We are human and we do have a lot of jobs to do at once under a hell of a lot of pressure, trust me. Its not always as easy at it looks.

User currently offlineBacxboys From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2003, 42 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (11 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 3312 times:

As a customer service agent for cx at LHR TERM3. Here are some of my reasons why check in can take time.
As has already been mentioned sometimes the pnr is not correct or there are no e- tkt details showing.
Also we have at certain times no Aisle or Windows available so will need to try and unblock which also takes time.
On certain destinations such as USA,AUSTRALIA,CHINA AND CANADA we also have to put in full passport details,emergency contacts etc and this list will get longer as countries change entry requirements.
This can increase transaction times with the passenger but is unavoidable.
We can also suffer from system problems such as faulty bag tag printers and boarding card printer faults.
It would also help if passengers had their passports and tickets ready...which for some is quite difficult.
So if we are typing quite a bit, there maybe a reason and after all on our flights whats the rush...you are going to be sat on youre backside for the next 11 hours...
hope this helps......

User currently offlineGBOAF From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2004, 156 posts, RR: 3
Reply 19, posted (11 years 4 months 20 hours ago) and read 3288 times:

AvianceGirl is spot on,

You have to realise that most people think that checking in is rather like getting on a bus. Upon arriving at your check in desk, a passenger will almost always have no clue as to which airline they are travelling with let alone what flight they are on!

The amount of information that needs to be fed into the computer system just so the agent can get the computer to print the boarding pass is really quite unbelievable. It ranges from every bit of info on your passport, every detail to do with your bags, any possible immigration information for the particular place you are going to, and of course, the security issue.

This added to the equipment that is used to do the job i.e. baggage scales that fail, computers that are not really that technologically advanced and require every detail to be entered manually, and the 6 different requests that the passenger is trying to overload you with while you are trying to enter all the info, and it is a time consuming process.

Next, after you have nearly completed the chk-in transaction, and you have explained to the pax all they need to know, you next explain that boarding for the flight is at 9.15, but there is no gate number available at the moment so they should watch the info screens once they have passed through security. The dozy passenger then nods their head to acknowledge they have understood then replies "ok...so what gate number is it"

AAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGH!!!... So this needs to be explained again!

Now try repeating the process over and over again, each time not letting the problems get to you, and you'll see its not always as easy or quick as it sometimes looks!!

Cheers, G-BOAF

Who cares enough to make the world half as big by flying twice as fast? We care!
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