American Airlines eliminated curbside check-in at 38 airports May 1. (It’s still offered at 26 airports including American hubs.)
You don’t need curbside check-in, but if you aren’t going to have it then there’s an entrepreneurial opportunity at a small scale to offer curbside assistance via a third party — someone to help with lots of luggage, more than a person can schlepp to the counter. That exists in some places (and is offered by some airlines) but any startup operation runs headlong into airport bureaurcracy.
American offers Five Star premium service at 9 domestic airports, though only ones that also have curbside check-in.
I’ve only ‘needed’ curbside check-in once, and I wasn’t checking any bags. Instead, US Airways and America West were combining reservation systems.
- US Airways told customers to check in online that day, but the website didn’t work.
- Neither did the kiosks.
- Check-in lines wrapped around the terminal at Fort Lauderdale where I was departing. Even the first class line was 40 minutes long.
- The only people who really knew how to work the new system they had to use were the Skycaps. They were incentivized, they were working for tips.
I walked outside and gave a Skycap $5 and he handed me a boarding pass. There was no wait at all at security, since no one could get a boarding pass.
I’ll just say that without skycaps, I hope October 17 goes well.
The position I’m most surprised hasn’t been cut (yet?) at American: staff who meet incoming flights to assist with connections.
Just as airline lobby group Airlines for America says the elimination of skycaps is because of passenger preference…
“Passengers have expressed interest in having more control over their entire travel experience, and as such airlines are implementing baggage self-tagging, which enables passengers to either print their baggage tag from a kiosk at the airport, or in some cases at home even before arriving at the airport,” said Melanie Hinton, spokeswoman for the airlines’ main trade group Airlines for America, in an email.
…the elimination of staff to assist with connections will certainly be because passengers have an interest in more control over their entire travel experience, and as such airlines are implementing departure screens which display connecting gates which enable passengers to identify the next step in their journey themselves. In some cases they’ll use mobile apps to tell them where to go next, and those may offer integrated terminals maps to guide the journey. Just sayin’.