Alaska Airlines has announced it will now start giving passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International (better known as Sea-Tac) a new do-it-yourself bag tag option for checked-luggage.
Sea-Tac’s Do-It-Yourself Bag Option
What this means is, Alaska passengers must now choose whether to wait in line to allow an airline representative to handle their checked-bag as they’ve always done, or go to a kiosk to print and attach their own luggage tags and then drop it off with an Alaska rep for screening and loading on the plane.
Passengers May Save Time, Airlines May Save Money
Self-bag tagging may save some time, but it may also be an inconvenience. However, a vice-president with Alaska, quoted in the airline’s press release, doesn’t see it that way: “Customers who have used the service are delighted to be able to help themselves.” Delight may be a bit strong but passengers have been exercising the option at other airports.
For the airline, it’s a no-brainer. As air travel analyst Rick Seaney says, “Any time an airline can save money by getting a kiosk to do some of the work a human being does, they are going to give it a shot, especially in today’s tough economic climate.” Airlines are always look for ways to save and ultimately beef up bottom lines, but – will enough passengers go along?
Maybe. Alaska called last year’s test-run of the self-bag tagging process at Oregon’s Redmond/Bend Airport a success and says it plans to roll out this option at more of its airports this summer (though no dates or cities were mentioned).
Self-Bag Tagging Isn’t New
Self-bag tagging is hardly new. Internationally travelers have noticed it in dozens of airports abroad, and American Airlines first tried it back in 2010. Other U.S. carriers joined in the following year and the soaring number of smartphones used by travelers has helped make such airline innovations acceptable especially since so many travelers now eschew paper boarding passes for the mobile variety.
And kiosks in airports are becoming familiar to all but the least-frequent flyers. Atlanta’s new $1.4 billion terminal, for example, boasts 64 do-it-yourself kiosks for travelers.