Most of us, passengers, have been using the web check-in facility whenever possible. The good news is, many airlines are now providing this feature into their flights. Although checking in online takes only few minutes of our time, many still do not use such feature, and many of us who are already doing it may not see a compelling benefit of doing so.
So here I’ve listed down a few benefits that will make us look at this small yet important feature differently next time we fly.
1. Shorter queue at the airport. This will be helpful if you’re flying with a widebody aircraft that can fly over 300 passengers where over 80% of the passengers are Economy and the rest are premium. Most airports would dedicate a counter or two for those who checked in online.
Example: This Emirates flight from Hong Kong to Dubai uses an Airbus A380 superjumbo which can accomodate 489 passengers. Of which, 399 are Economy.
As a result, queue for Economy was this:
And web check-in queue was this:
There are even more passengers lined up at first and business class than that for those who checked-in online.
You could have spent more time doing something else.
Note: When there is no separate queue for online check-in, then checking-in online will not make any difference as far as the queue is concerned.
2. Be able to preselect your preferred seat. Now that a lot of passengers use online check-in, preferred seats may go fast. If you wait till you get at the check-in counter to select your seat, chances are, you may not get it. So whether you opt for a window seat by the wing or want to be on a less crowded part of the cabin further back, it is always a good idea to do it way in advance, if your fare class allows for it.
Note 1: Some airlines will only allow you to select your preferred seat location – that is, aisle or window, but not a specific seat number. And that doesn’t even assure you that you eventually get what you indicated there.
Note 2: Some airlines, for all fare family and fare classes, will allow you to preselect your seat way before the date of departure, even before online check-in becomes available for your flight. Some airlines will allow you to do that only for certain fare classes. Different segments (sectors) of your flight may have different fare class. So you may find yourself being able to preselect your seats only for certain sectors, but not for others.
Tip: Some airlines offer preferred seats (bulkhead, seats with wider legroom, upper cabin seats for Airbus 380s, and so on) for a nominal fee. This is something you can do online. As this is non-refundable, do this only when you are absolutely certain that you will be flying.
3. You will be able to enter your indentification details (passport) before flight. This saves Some time at the airport.
4. Select your preferred meal . This will be useful if you have dietary preferences or restrictions. Most full service carriers (FSCs) will allow you to choose different meals such as Halal, Kosher, Vegetarian, Indian, among others.
5. Be able to print your boarding pass ahead of time and be able to keep a soft copy of it. Mind though that some airlines will still prefer to reprint your boarding pass for you during check-in at the airport. Others will let you use the boarding pass you printed or the one you got in your mobile device. Of course, you will be given a new boarding pass in cases when you get a seat reassignment or upgrade.
6. You will be able to determine your exact terminal and gates when you check-in online close enough to departure time. You travel to the airport already knowing which terminal should you go to and which gate should you be boarding at.
Note: Most airports with high aircraft traffic may shuffle gate assignments on short notice. So always check the FID (flight information display) for the updated gate assignment. For some airports, airlines are usually assigned a specific gate to use. So if you fly with the same airline every time, you always find yourself at that same gate. Still, that is subject to change if the gate is still being used by another aircraft when the incoming aircraft arrives.
7. You will be able to add in your frequent flyer program (FFP) details, if any. That way, you won’t have to ask the check-in staff to do it for you anymore. Besides, you may not remember your FFP membership number if you failed to bring along with you your embership card. When you do so online, the miles will automatically be credited to your account once you key in your FFP number.
8. If you checked in online and you arrive late and you have no checked in luggage, you can still get to your flight as long as you arrive before departure time. Check-in counter for domestic flights usually close at around 45 minutes or more before departure. An hour or more for international flights. After you checked-in online and not checking in a baggage, you are good as physically checked in already. You just have to arrive at your gate before it closes.
9. If you checked in online already, you will be usually allowed to check in your luggage (baggage drop) less than 1 hr before departure, unless counters have closed already.
10. You would know in advance specific restrictions of the airport. Each airport has its own rules regarding what you can bring on-board. Checking-in early will allow you to plan what you’re going to stuff into your luggage and what not to. In some cases, this can help you breeze through the process when you do the actual check-in at the airport.
There you have it. I hope these benefits will be convincing enough for you to start making use of the web check-in provision. Who knows, you may find a few more benefits that I have not already listed. If you do, feel free to share them here by leaving your comment below.
Thanks in advance.
Francis is an aviation fan. He loves to travel for the flying part of it and to plane spot during stops. He likes to express his views about some aviation industry news, from the perspective of a regular traveller. Finally, he writes anything that he thinks can help others make the most out of their flights.