There is no doubt that advanced electronic check-in for one’s flight has revolutionized the airport experience and the tedious check-in process. Advances in allowing one to issue their own boarding pass for a flight by either checking-in online within 24 hours to departure or at the airport using a self check-in kiosk has sped things up and airport line-ups seem to be more manageable than ever. Unless you still have to check-in your luggage.
Always trying to get a leg up on their competition, airlines have been looking into ways of further easing airport congestion and servicing their customers by now improving on the way your checked baggage is being handled. Various airlines have been trying different things but one form of baggage management has been working out quite well for Air France.
The idea was put into practice earlier this year but seemed to really pay dividends during a busy August weekend in Paris, where unsurprisingly, Air France ground crew and baggage handlers walked off their jobs, striking at both the insanely busy Charles de Gaulle airport as well as the secondary Parisian airport, Orly. In order to minimize the madness that would surely ensue with limited workers on hand to handle the weekend crowds, Air France opened their downtown Paris office to accept checked passenger luggage for check-in. With a day prior to travel, Air France guests were invited to check-in online and drop-off their bags at the airline’s office, to later be shuttled to the airport, free of charge.
In North America, American carriers have been looking at baggage at the other end of the spectrum. While not a free option, some U.S. airlines now offer a baggage drop-off service, allowing passengers to land and simply walk away. Currently, only major hub airports offer the service but this may change to include more and more cities North America wide. Tariffs are based on the distance from the airport the airline representatives have to take your bag, but let’s face it, time is money and if line-ups irk you to no end, the ideas of landing and leaving may be worth a few dollars.
The Air France action saved passengers a lot of time that weekend but as mentioned, the concept isn’t exactly a new, groundbreaking idea. Air France actually used this same procedure in the 70’s, using the same downtown office to collect passenger’s bags. Swiss travellers flying out of Zurich, Geneva and Bern have even more options as bags can be dropped off in any of up to 50 train stations throughout the three cities for airline transport.
If the pilot project in Paris takes off and becomes common place, expect more airlines in more countries to follow suit, and to once again revolutionize the airport experience. Amen.