Contrary to some of the hype, Delta hasn’t eliminated the need to check in for flights they just prompt you to check in and opening the app, acknowledge the list of restricted items and that completes the check-in process. Which really isn’t that different from being reminded to check in, opening the app, and tapping the button to check in.
Federal rules notwithstanding the need to check in is a bit of an anachronism. Requiring it of every passenger does let an airline know a few minutes earlier how many people haven’t checked in, therefore losing their seats, and making seats available to accommodate other passengers. But is it really worth imposing the (small) cost on millions of people per day?
And why wait until 24 hours out? Why not just declare whenever you wish that you’re going to show up for a flight, but if you do and then no show you lose any remaining value of the ticket. Actually there is a simply reason: basic economy tickets, and tickets whose price is less than the change fee, mean a customer would just check in immediately whether they planned to show up or not because the residual ticket value is no longer an incentive to be certain of plans prior to declaring them.
It’s not “check in when you book your flight” but last year Emirates started allowing online check-in 48 hours out.
In the meantime check-in is much easier than it used to be, with far fewer people queuing at the airport. When check-in kiosks were first introduced I didn’t like that airlines were either requiring or strongly encouraging passengers to use them — because that meant even people who wouldn’t be able to use them due to a complexity in their travel were required to first fail before being allowed to talk to an agent. That was another cost shifted onto the customer for the airline’s convenience (eventually cutting down on counter staff).
Airlines have continued to innovate making check-in easier, though new security rules have forced Cathay Pacific to eliminate in-town check-in and self service baggage drop for US-bound flights.
Still Emirates may have come with the ultimate convenience: mobile check-in comes to you. Forget “in town” baggage drop, Emirates is testing picking up your bags at your home and handing you a boarding pass.
(HT: Meg Butler)