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International Airport Ticket Counters Vs US  
User currently offlineExRUAgentatDAL From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 41 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 5190 times:

I was wandering around IAD today and wondered why US Airport Ticket Counters are not set up like most International Airports are. From the few times I have been international, the setups seem to work great. If an airline leaves or changes locations the airport admin just needs to move/remove a sign. Since alot of the Internationals flying into the US outsource their operations to companies that may work 2 or 3 other airlines, the same area can be used for all operations.

Just something that popped in my head.

Chris


"The views expressed are mine alone and do not reflect the views of AirTran Airways"
20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBobnwa From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 6483 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 5182 times:

At international ticket counters, the agents are all seated. At U.S. ticket counters the agents are all standing.

User currently offlineCospn From Northern Mariana Islands, joined Oct 2001, 1621 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 5161 times:

US airlines need signage and things like self service check in Kiosks, and computers that are not easily moved around....also Americans like to go to the "same" place, each time...to find the counter..not hunt around for it....for examplt T1 in MNL there are about 8-10 Airlines checking in so not hard to find the "Banner" for your Airline..and check in..I dont think this would work in the US...

User currently offlineJsnww81 From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2037 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 5110 times:

Most international airports have relied on CUTE (Common-Use Terminal Equipment) for years. CUTE allows check-in for any airline to be conducted at any ticket counter. Nowadays each ticket counter has a TV monitor or LCD screen that displays the airline name, and in some cases the flight number/destination that's being checked in.

It's not as confusing for travelers as it sounds. Most CUTE-equipped terminals have overhead monitors that display departure information, just as we do here in the US. In a CUTE terminal, however, the check-in counter number is also displayed on screen. Thus, when you enter the terminal, you can consult the monitor and see which counter you need to report to.

At many CUTE airports - like LHR - airlines tend to use the same counter or group of counters each day. Thus if you're a frequent traveler, you pretty much know where to go. At LHR Terminal 3, American and United always use the same counters even though the facility uses CUTE (only Virgin has a dedicated check-in area - it's like a US airport, with permanent signage and VS logos everywhere, but that's because they built it themselves and paid for the right.)

I think CUTE is definitely the way to go - our system in the US leaves many ticket counters and gate areas underutilized throughout the day. Most European and Asian airports have half the number of jetways and concourses, and with a few notable exceptions (like LHR T3 or Frankfurt) walking distances for pax are much, more shorter. You never see airline logos on jetways or ticket counters.

CUTE and other "international" terminal design features are making inroads here in the US, albeit slowly. SFO's new international terminal has CUTE ticket counters, which are arranged in a much more sensible island design like most Euro/Asian airports. Indianapolis' new terminal will also have island ticket counters instead of linear counters. I just flew through MIA last month, and I noticed that the individual dedicated check-in desks have been replaced by flat-screen monitors that display the logo of whatever airline is using the desks.

Personally, I wish our airports followed the international model for check-in, with baggage belts that take the luggage away from you (instead of the agent having to lift it him/herself), island-style counters and CUTE equipment. We have a lot of good design features in our airports (it's very common in other countries to board your aircraft from a remote stand, where in the US it almost never happens) but IMHO check-in isn't one of them.

Sorry for the diatribe - terminal design is one of my favorite topics.  Smile


User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2689 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days ago) and read 5073 times:

I don't know how receptive US carriers would be to having CUTE systems installed at airports across the country. I don't know about Europe, but at least in the US, the airlines have their ticket counters extremely customized to serve their individual needs. For example, when I was flying on CO from PBI to EWR, they had a separate section of the ticket counter @ PBI set up with solely kiosks so that pax could walk right up and check in and then another area with the regular agent counters/scales for pax that needed additional assistance. CO also had all of their eliteAccess signage and carpeting set up in a special area on the side.

Such a setup wouldn't be possible with a CUTE system, as if AA, for example, needed to use that space later in the day, they might not necessarily want the kiosks set up the way CO does, nor would they use the same blue eliteAccess carpet that CO does. And it would be a real drag to have to haul that stuff around all the time.

On that note, how do the kiosks work in European countries? CO's kiosks have different software from WN's kiosks, and WN's kiosks have different software from AA's kiosks, etc., and they all have different boarding pass stock that the kiosks print on. When airlines change locations, do they have to load all of the kiosks with their own paper and change the software being used?


User currently offlineNWHPDTW From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 15 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5012 times:

Quoting Cory6188 (Reply 4):
CO's kiosks have different software from WN's kiosks, and WN's kiosks have different software from AA's kiosks, etc., and they all have different boarding pass stock that the kiosks print on. When airlines change locations, do they have to load all of the kiosks with their own paper and change the software being used?

LAS currently uses common-use check-in kiosks, mostly intended for those not checking bags, so it isn't impossible for this to be implemented in the U.S. See http://www.mccarran.com/pdf/SpeedCheckRackWebsite.pdf .


User currently offlineStar_world From Ireland, joined Jun 2001, 1234 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 5000 times:

Quoting NWHPDTW (Reply 5):
LAS currently uses common-use check-in kiosks, mostly intended for those not checking bags, so it isn't impossible for this to be implemented in the U.S. See http://www.mccarran.com/pdf/SpeedCheckRackWebsite.pdf .

Correct - these are provided by ARINC, and yes it's certainly possible. There is a similar setup in use in the new Star Alliance terminal in NRT, with kiosks shared between all of the Star airlines there.


User currently offlineApodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4280 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 21 hours ago) and read 4928 times:

Quoting NWHPDTW (Reply 5):
LAS currently uses common-use check-in kiosks, mostly intended for those not checking bags, so it isn't impossible for this to be implemented in the U.S. See http://www.mccarran.com/pdf/SpeedCheckRackWebsite.pdf .

LAS goes a step further than that. Each gate podium employs the CUTE concept, with software that can allow different airlines to use their own reservation systems, so that basically you can switch from Fastair, to Shares, to Sabre at the click of a mouse. This allows airlines to use different gates and switch around if they have to.

The best example of this is C gates. US West uses Gates C21 and C22 I believe for a couple of late night departures. These gates are in the C concourse which southwest uses most of the day. Since Southwest has no redeyes and doesn't need all the gates at night, US West takes a couple of them for themselves which they need for late night since they had gates on A and B taken from them thanks to pesky TSA issues, and using the same computers, they pull up shares on the click of a mouse. When Southwest uses the gates the next day, they can switch back to their own system.

During the day its the same deal. Since US West doesn't need as much gate space in the day, Southwest uses a couple of B gates, B9 and B10 I believe, for some ops of their own. It really works out well. Only problem is that they had to put in a shuttle bus for connecting flights, because the areas weren't linked in a secure area before.

The other key aspect to this concept is the backdrop. Instead of having an airline custom back drop, its just a backdrop with a tv monitor on it that displays all the flight information. This can display every airline, and its really neat, and every gate in LAS features this. I think it looks a lot better than what most airlines have for themselves, especially UA, DL, and CO. Other airports that employ this concept are MCO on airside 2, and PIT.

Personally, I think every US airport should go this route as it would make it alot easier to sort carriers out. If you had this in say DEN, than UA and F9 could have shared the A gates instead of fought over them. LAX wouldn't have the gate issues it has (IE gates being underutilized, and other carriers with not enough space). Thats one big problem I have with the US. The airports let the airlines control the gates. You don't see this anywhere else.


User currently offlineStar_world From Ireland, joined Jun 2001, 1234 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4811 times:

Quoting Apodino (Reply 7):

LAS goes a step further than that. Each gate podium employs the CUTE concept, with software that can allow different airlines to use their own reservation systems, so that basically you can switch from Fastair, to Shares, to Sabre at the click of a mouse. This allows airlines to use different gates and switch around if they have to.

You've just described exactly what CUTE is - this is nothing new in the industry, and is the same as what's deployed in many other airports around the world as mentioned by some of the previous posters.

But yes - it's a great system, allowign much more efficient use of the checkin terminals (and gates) than the old-fashioned US system of everyone having their own dedicated areas.


User currently offlineERJ170 From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 6771 posts, RR: 17
Reply 9, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 4794 times:

RDU new terminal C will be cute and CUTE... with ticketing islands rather than counters, multi-use kiosks instead of individual airline kiosks, and multi-craft jetways (CRJs to 747s) rather than specific jetways.. however, the gates will be dedicated use (except the 3 international gates which will be common use)...

However, I think the airport authority will start using the "if you have multiple gates and don't use a gate, we will take it" idea since they only do month-to-month leases instead of the normal US long term lease agreements.



Aiming High and going far..
User currently offlineJGPH1A From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 4771 times:

Quoting Cory6188 (Reply 4):
Such a setup wouldn't be possible with a CUTE system, as if AA, for example, needed to use that space later in the day, they might not necessarily want the kiosks set up the way CO does, nor would they use the same blue eliteAccess carpet that CO does. And it would be a real drag to have to haul that stuff around all the time.

On that note, how do the kiosks work in European countries? CO's kiosks have different software from WN's kiosks, and WN's kiosks have different software from AA's kiosks, etc., and they all have different boarding pass stock that the kiosks print on. When airlines change locations, do they have to load all of the kiosks with their own paper and change the software being used?

The kiosk equivalent of CUTE is CUSS = Common Use Self-Service - DCS systems and kiosk providers are gradually certifying their products for use with it, same as getting certified for CUTE (SITA), MUSE (ARINC) and RESA (French system). It does mean that airports can save a lot by not having dedicated counters per carrier, yet allowing each carrier/ground handler to select which DCS system their counters and kiosks are connected to.


User currently offlineCaptaink From Mexico, joined May 2001, 5109 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 4731 times:

Quoting Bobnwa (Reply 1):
At international ticket counters, the agents are all seated. At U.S. ticket counters the agents are all standing.

Everyone in Terminal 4 at JFK are seated. I was a little shocked to see that a few weeks ago....



There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineSJCRRPAX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 4704 times:

I don't know how common this is in Europe as I don't spend a lot of time in European airports, but I have ran into this a number of times, where they have a sign that says something like CHECK-IN OPENS 1:30, CLOSES 2:15. This type of system sucks in my opinion. If you are at the airport early you get to wait in line, maybe an hour or something before you can check in and get rid of your bags. Plus, they had it set up so that each agent would only check in a particular flight, so if another flight was about all checked in you could not use the shorter line. My limited experience is the U.S. system is way better, Why should I have to figure out where the dam check-in line is, and if I get to the airport early why can't I get rid of my bags and begin going through security?

User currently offlineIceTitan447 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days ago) and read 4619 times:

Quoting ExRUAgentatDAL (Thread starter):
International Airport Ticket Counters Vs US

Agents in the US have to stand, the Europeans get to sit on bar stools and such. That is one difference when I would travel abroad.


User currently offlineLeskova From Germany, joined Oct 2003, 6075 posts, RR: 70
Reply 14, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 4551 times:

Quoting SJCRRPAX (Reply 12):
I don't know how common this is in Europe as I don't spend a lot of time in European airports, but I have ran into this a number of times, where they have a sign that says something like CHECK-IN OPENS 1:30, CLOSES 2:15.

It really depends on the airline, and how many flights they have to a particular airport; here at FRA, just as at other German airports, LH has check-in counters where you can check in for all flights (though there is a difference between general check-in counters and counters for US/Canada flights here); in ZRH you can use any LX counter for any LX flight; in VIE any OS counter for any OS flight...

Obviously, if an airline only has one or two flights a day, they won't want to have their staff sitting around the airport the whole day. This is why counters are used by several airlines, which also makes the whole check-in area smaller and, in the end, usually much more user-friendly.

Quoting SJCRRPAX (Reply 12):
This type of system sucks in my opinion.

And that's an opinion you're entitled to... though I couldn't disagree more.

Quoting SJCRRPAX (Reply 12):
Why should I have to figure out where the dam check-in line is, and if I get to the airport early why can't I get rid of my bags and begin going through security?

First of all, figuring out where to go for checking in really isn't that much of a challenge - if you can recognize things like numbers and letters, it's a matter of minutes at most... if at all that much. And in the end, you'll have to figure out which concourse and which gate to head to, since you can't simply sit down at any gate and demand to be transferred to your flight from there... and with this more efficient use of space, you'll simply have to look at a monitor or a board to see where your check-in counter is located.



Smile - it confuses people!
User currently offlineCentrair From Japan, joined Jan 2005, 3598 posts, RR: 20
Reply 15, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4534 times:

Here in NGO, the airport is divided into Domestic and International Check-in.

Domestic check in is divided into NH and JL. We are not served by any other domestic carriers. If they come, they will get their own space. This is more like US Check-in.

But on the International side: SQ, TG, NH, UA, OZ, LH (Star Alliance) are all under a "Star/ANA" Check-in. NW & CO, share check-in operated by JL staffing. KE is next to NW/CO. This is the Skyteam corner. All other carriers share a JL check-in. The signs are flipped around but those with many flights, like NH, KE, OZ, JL, NW and CO have their own space.

In Japan, JL handles a lot of the check-in ops at airports. This is their only job. Once a flight has done its job they go off to work another flight's check-in. There are limited flights a day so having your own space and staff is a waste of money so you outsource to your partner or local service.

[Edited 2006-07-31 08:50:19]


Yes...I am not a KIX fan. Let's Japanese Aviation!
User currently offlineLaxintl From United States of America, joined May 2000, 25501 posts, RR: 50
Reply 16, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 4528 times:

The difference with Europe and US have much more to do than with common use terminal equipment.

The heart of the difference has to do with the may airports are managed and run in the US versus other parts of the world and how major airlines interact with them.

In the US airlines usually get into long term exclusive lease holds for ticket counters, gates and other facilities. Those facilities then become solely for the use of that airline, unless the carrier feels like subleasing facilities to another party. Accordingly most US airports since pre-deregulation days have developed with air carriers having their own entire terminals or concourses, while much of the remainder of the world has followed common use approach to facility use.

Each approach has its own benefits. Certainly from an air carrier point of view having your own facilities can be beneficial from both operational, marketing and financial reasons. From an airports point of view this generates predictable revenues flows and keep the airport from having to micro manage the facility as air carriers would be responsible for much of the upkeep of the facility.

Ultimately however such arrangements at most US facilities have started to cause issues. With crowing and the lack of available free space at many airports, competition has been hindered as some airlines have decided to squat on facilities that might not even be in use to block entry or expansion by competitors. Common use set up by theory allow more balanced facility use leading to potentialy greater volume of passengers and flights.

I give credit to the few US airports willing to adopt a common use approach to ticket counters and gates, just am unsure how successful they will be in the long run as the concept is quite unliked by most major carriers.



From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
User currently offlineSJCRRPAX From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 17, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 4406 times:

Quoting Leskova (Reply 14):
Obviously, if an airline only has one or two flights a day, they won't want to have their staff sitting around the airport the whole day. This is why counters are used by several airlines, which also makes the whole check-in area smaller and, in the end, usually much more user-friendly.

I did not notice this problem in FRA, HAM, but specifically I noted problem at CIA (Rome) STD (London) and CDG (Paris - Domestic/UK terminal), and the airlines were Ryanair and Easyjet (but I think all the airlines there did same thing. ) So you are OK with making the passenger who shows up early at the airport having to wait around maybe 30 minutes until they post the check-in line number, and than making the passenger wait maybe 60 minutes before the line opens, and leaving them with no time to eat a lunch or spot some planes? If the passengers show up early let them check-in!! If you are a little bit late, expect to see a line half way across the terminal for your flight. If this Euro system is effecient (which I doubt), it is a lot less user-friendly. I don't think I ever wait longer than about 5 minutes to check-in for WN for example (or any other US carrier)


User currently offlineCaptaink From Mexico, joined May 2001, 5109 posts, RR: 12
Reply 18, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 4383 times:

Quoting IceTitan447 (Reply 13):

Agents in the US have to stand, the Europeans get to sit on bar stools and such. That is one difference when I would travel abroad.

As I said everyone on T4 JFK are sitting. Not sure if this is the only US terminal like this..



There is something special about planes....
User currently offlineCltguy From United States of America, joined Sep 2004, 598 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4295 times:

The last time I actually checked in at an airport counter was in SJO....and that was years ago.

Otherwise I have always printed my boarding pass online and if I have checked baggage then I check it curbside. No sense in standing in line forever when you can get the same thing acoomplished before you get to the airport.


User currently offlinePlanenutz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 20, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 4256 times:

Interestingly, one of the first North American airports to use the CUTE system was the TBIT at LAX. It was rather low tech though. All workstations were CUTE equipped, however, all signage and branding was manual. Each carrier had custom signs 4ft x 4ft made out of non-glare plastic that would be attached to a mounting on the wall behind the check-in counter. The signs were quite heavy and it oftemtimes took two people to lift them onto the wall.

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