Wednesday, April 15, 2009

inFLIGHTout Travel Tip: Online Check-In

By Mike Grasso
Most airlines allow customers to check-in for their upcoming flight up to 24 hours before the scheduled departure. With online check-in, also known as e-check-in, passengers can print their boarding pass remotely, then proceed directly to the security check point upon arriving at the airport, or with bags to check, utilize dedicated bag drop off lines, then head over to security. 

Other benefits of checking in online include reconfirming your seat assignments, checking on any flight delays or irregularly operations, and it alerts the airline you are planning to travel, even if you show up at the gate a little late. (Keep in mind airlines have cut off times when you must be at the gate, otherwise risk looking your seat). Certain airlines still offer bonus frequent flyer miles for e-check in, and others provide discounts on checked bag fees if you declare bags in advance, using web check-in. 

Here are some tips about using online check-in:

-If you are traveling, ask the hotel concierge to print boarding passes for you, or to use the hotel's business center to do so. 
-A growing number of hotels offers airline check-in machines in their lobby, allowing you to print your airline boarding pass, just as you are checking out of your hotel. 
-Even when you don't have a printer nearby, you can check-in for your flights using a mobile device, then opt to print the boarding passes using airport e-check-in machines. 
-Don't have access to the Internet at all? No problem. Call a friend or co-worker and have them check you in for your flight, then print boarding passes at the airport. 
-If you are unable to catch your flight you've already checked-in for, contact the airline immediately to preserve any remaining value or discuss flight alternatives.
-Keep tuned to exciting changes coming to the check-in process, as some airlines have begun testing paperless boarding passes, where you simply display your smartphone and electronic boarding pass to proceed through airport security checkpoints.