It will probably be possible in the very near future to get from the curb to the plane without saying a single word to anyone. Self-service airports would allow passengers to get their tickets and check their bags without any help from an airline employee.
According to the Wall Street Journal, several airlines have started testing a system that would allow passengers to check their own bags. Most airports already have self-service kiosks that allow passengers to get their own tickets but for those traveling with extra luggage a long line and a bit of customer service is inevitable.
Self-service airports, however, could make that a thing of the past.
Ben Minicucci, chief operating officer of Alaska Airlines, said:
“Your first interaction could be with a flight attendant.”
The Consumerist reports that Alaska Airlines recently started using a self-tagging system for baggage at airports in Seattle and San Diego. The airline plans to bring the self-tagging system to 8 more airports in the near future.
American Airlines and JetBlue are also working on becoming “self-service” airlines. AA has baggage kiosks in several cities and JetBlue uses self-boarding gates.
Airlines have been looking at ways to save money for years. Airlines have been cutting the number of flights and seating arrangements are being tested to get more people on each flight. A self-service airport could help airlines save even more money by cutting down the number of people it employs.
That, of course, doesn’t sit right with Airline-employee unions.
Frank Larkin, spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said:
“Clearly it’s not something passengers are clamoring for…. More technology, fewer people? I don’t think so.”
But the airlines say that it’s all about serving the customer and the customer hates long lines.
Aage Duenhaupt, a spokesman for Lufthansa, said:
“A lot of our passengers are frequent fliers who really prefer not to talk with staff all the time… They check-in online, get a mobile boarding pass and then use it at an automated boarding gate.”
What do you think about self-service airports? Would you like to be able to check your bags without talking to anyone?