Airline check-in kiosks were supposed to be a money-saving investment – a classic example of automation replacing workers. But Alaska is moving to the next stage of evolution in cost-savings in the Portland airport where they’re now eliminating even kiosk jobs.
Alaska Airlines says its passengers will need to print their boarding passes at home or load them onto a smartphone to fly through Portland International Airport.
The airline is replacing the self-serve kiosks that print boarding passes as part of what it described as a new “check-in experience,” and it says boarding passes for Alaska flights won’t be available on the airport’s common-use kiosks, either.
Alaska has already eliminated check-in kiosks in Las Vegas; Indianapolis; Cleveland; Missoula; and Boise. The airline of course says this isn’t about cost, it’s about the environment, since this will “cut down on paper use” as they encourage you to use larger full sheets of paper from your home printer.
There will still be customer service agents on site for those who don’t show up with boarding pass in hand. And they won’t charge for the service the way ultra low cost carriers do. But with fewer staff, and no longer a kiosk option, expect to wait for this. Currently 25% of Alaska Airlines passengers check-in at a kiosk or in-person.
American Airlines shut down the self-serve kiosks they had near gates during the pandemic. They were old machines and the airline didn’t want to invest in updates since they aren’t used nearly as much as check-in kiosks. Those are being used constantly.
Perhaps Alaska Airlines passengers in the Pacific Northwest are more technologically savvy and more prone to using the Alaska Airlines app. And maybe Portland is a market the airline isn’t worried about inconveniencing those who don’t with long lines. While they’ve reconfigured check-in options in recent years in Seattle, they need to remain competitive there with Delta. Ultimately, as word gets out, many passengers will shift to a model that is more convenient for the airline and limits the amount of time at the airport. And Alaska has awesome permanent electronic baggage tags for doing-it-yourself bag check as well.
And maybe we shouldn’t miss these kiosks anyway because they can be the dirtiest thing at the airport, with up to 1475 times the bacteria of a toilet seat, though different airlines have different standards for their cleaning. Delta, for instance, has told me they clean their kiosks multiple times per day and they have an auditing program in place to to ensure this happens.
Update: Alaska Airlines shared the following statement,
We’re introducing new technology to help our guests have a seamless travel experience. Our airport lobbies are in the process of being modernized with the goal of getting guests through the lobby to security more quickly. This means fewer lines and more time for that pre-trip snack.
Based on the understanding that the vast majority of Americans own a smartphone, the first step in this modernization is having guests check-in and secure their boarding pass (either digital or printed) before they come to the airport. New bag tag stations will replace dated kiosks in lobbies where guests will pay for and tag their checked bags using iPad tablets – all other actions should be done before arriving at the airport.
The Alaska Airlines app is the perfect pre-trip tool, but guests can also check-in on a desktop and send a boarding pass to their phone or print one at home. For guests who need more assistance at the airport, we will always have customer service agents available. Airports have already begun changing to the new tablets and guests are adapting – with 3 out of 4 guests arriving with a boarding pass in hand to airports with the new technology.
In addition to the time saved by our guests, this change also helps us reduce the amount of paper we use – an important step toward our sustainability goals.
Not sure how this will change behavior as you can’t print your BP at home once you’re at the airport and realize there are no kiosks.
The check-in kiosks also print out bag tags.
@Jason in the airports where AS has removed check in kiosks, they have put in a different type of tablet based kiosk that still prints bag tags
@ Gary — I will not waste my time printing BPs at a hotel, and I am wholly opposed to relying on my phone. This is a very stupid move on Alaska’s part. It is also very discriminatory against those with no cell phone.
This will be great for elderly travelers.
Alaska Airlines FAILS again.
Delta is reducing the number of Sky Club agents with kiosks. In the Nordic countries, automatic boarding gates and security gates have replaced agents as well.
The Rudest States In America
To many people, it probably isn’t surprising that Minnesota is ranked at the bottom of this list. It’s just not in Minnesotan nature to be rude. Best Life had them at the bottom of state rankings for general unfriendliness, as well as 48th for rude customers. The percentage of that state that was considered rude wasn’t even over one percent. The overall “Rudeness Score” given was a big, fat zero. Although, it was determined that the rudest city was Minneapolis-St. Paul.
As Delta Elite, I always chat with a chek-in agent human being at MSP. I enjoyed SunCountry until it went LCC and changed its routes and schedules on me. So I transit through MSP as much as possible. A small reminder of the Golden Age of Travel, the way things used to be. B4 SV enginerds in grey turtlenecks and ripped jeans along with their tiktok influencer galpals wrecked it all.
“The dirtiest think at the airport” is your airplane seat.
trying to hide cost cutting as environmentalism is nothing short of fraud. Not providing a means for people to check in on their own using industry standard boarding passes is nothing short of ludicrous – regardless of the airline.
I personally love using airline apps but not everyone does.
What a bunch of BS Alaska! About the environment! What a joke! It’s about costs and profit. You are not a budget airline stop acting like one. Even Spirit and Frontier offer check in kiosks at the airport. I hope you rethink these idiotic policies. If I am buying a first class ticket or paying extra for premium economy I expect a certain level of customer service. What exactly about this do you not get?
Wow, what a bunch of whiners. I mean seriously. How dare people have to use their cellphone for such a basic task. The horrors. How will any of you survive.
At many airports I do not need a BP to get through security, just my ID. Ive used my phone now for many years, putting the passes in my wallet which is a much easier way to see where Ive been by viewing expired passes. Even my mom, at 97 uses her mobile phone for her BPs. I would never want to go back to the days of the card stock ticket, let alone the paper tickets being used now.
I have behind too many whose phones won’t bring up the no …what a bottleneck. This will slow everything down and stress out those like my sister with no cell phone.
Who still prints boarding passes???
Portland is a dying city. Won’t be long before Alaska pulls out.
It’s 2023 — who prints a boarding pass or checks a bag?? This is travel 101 people. Carry on always and use a mobile boarding pass.
Oh Brandon, why dont you stand at the gate to help others who cant see very well, whose phones cant bring up the BP and just beacuse on 98 yo can use her phone doesnt mean another 89 yo can too
The land of bad decisions
Kudos to AS! Those with paper boarding passes should board last.
Besides the Alaska app, I save a boarding pass on Google Wallet and also save a screenshot.
To those of you concerned that an airline is interested in making a profit and cutting costs, I’m curious what your idea of the purpose of business is? We can’t hate an airline for wanting to decrease costs and should praise Alaska for finding a way to provide benefits for their guests in the same effort. Personally, I would rather have access to my boarding pass on my phone, a device that I use for just about everything else in life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy tickets with an airline to enjoy their lobby space. Any chance I have to avoid congested lobbies and long lines is a win for me.
Alaska Airlines, a leader in environmental stewardship will soon implement paperless in flight restrooms. Passengers will be able to download the necessary ‘paperwork’ via an app on their smartphone or tablet, data rates may apply.
I fly dozens of times each year– mainly internationally, but sometimes, domestically– and I cannot remember the last time I used a paper boarding pass. I have a phone.
The pearl clutching here is amazing. A comment going as far to say it’s *checks notes* discriminating against people without cellphones.
Considering the number of comments we get in all the other posts from the “Let’s go Brandon” folks, it’s good to see they are finally taking a stand against classism.
However, perhaps because they are new to the fight they still don’t know how to do it. I believe the program that issues free phone plans to low income people is national. (Thanks Brandon)
Teach Nana to use her phone or she can get in line. It’s pretty simple.