Alaska Airlines Will No Longer Let Passengers Do This, Starting Monday
The carrier just announced it was doing away with one popular pre-flight convenience.
Despite its many recent faults and shortcomings, air travel has become much more convenient in the last decade. Now, the same smartphone you use to book tickets can also act as your boarding pass. Airlines' apps can be used to check in to your flight, get up-to-the-minute information on your departure, or make last-second changes to your itinerary. And even the dreaded process of going through security is becoming less bogged down due to new technology. While some advances are industry-wide, each airline has also invested in specific advances or perks to make boarding a plane easier. But now, Alaska Airlines says it will no longer allow passengers to use one of its well-known pre-flight amenities. Read on to see which popular practice the carrier will discontinue in the coming days.
READ THIS NEXT: American Is Cutting Flights to These 8 Major Cities, Starting Nov. 3.
Many major airlines have recently made changes that affect the passenger experience.
As air travel picks back up for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines are making changes to relieve some of the burdens they now feel while still trying to win over passengers.
In July, Delta announced the unveiling of a new technologically advanced pre-flight feature known as "Parallel Reality" for its passengers traveling through Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The unique experience allows travelers to opt-in to a facial recognition scan or scan their boarding pass to then display their personalized flight information on a digital board, The Washington Post reported. While the experience allows for up to 100 passengers at once, each person can only see their own itinerary—including their boarding gate and how long it will take to walk there—no matter where they are standing or move to in the room.
Later that month, Southwest Airlines announced it would be eliminating expiration dates from flight credits issued by the carrier, making it the first major U.S. company to do so. The airline clarified that the change would apply to "all currently valid, existing flight credits," as well as all future issued credits.
And in August, Southwest confirmed it had "flipped the switch to turn on" its new Digital Self Service Upgraded Boarding feature, The Points Guy reported. The new service now allows customers to pay an extra fee for a spot in the carrier's earliest A1-A15 boarding section on flights using the airline's official app or website. Previously, passengers could only make this purchase in person at the airport.
But now, another carrier has announced a change that could affect your next trip.
Alaska Airlines is eliminating one of its popular pre-flight passenger conveniences.
Just like any other aspect of flying, how each airline handles your baggage differs from one carrier to the next. However, Alaska Airlines passengers who have grown accustomed to the convenience of printing their bag tags at home will soon have to say goodbye to the pre-flight perk as it phases out the function, The Points Guy reports.
Previously, customers could download and print tags for any checked baggage while checking in to their flight before arriving at the airport. From there, they could bypass baggage check lines and kiosk queues to have their I.D. checked and their luggage placed on board. But after being the first major U.S. carrier to launch such a feature in 2014, the airline says it will end the service as of Sept. 12.
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A different technology will replace the home-printed luggage tags.
Even though the feature is currently available to passengers flying from 95 cities, a representative for the carrier says that it's not as utilized as one might expect. "Usage of guests who print bag tags at home is low and oftentimes required them to still see an agent at the airport," an Alaska Airlines spokesperson said in a statement confirming the change, per The Points Guy.
However, even as the company sunsets the convenient feature, it's replacing it with another. "At-home bag tag printing is being retired so that we can focus on the new Electronic Bag Tags coming later this fall as well as other enhancements to the lobby experience that will allow guests to quickly generate their bag tags," the spokesperson said.
Alaska Airlines hopes new digital bag tags will make the entire luggage hand-off process even easier.
According to a statement released by the company on July 19, Alaska Airlines is set to become the first U.S. carrier to launch a new electronic bag tag system for ticketed passengers. The new feature will allow travelers to activate the new luggage identification tags when they check in for their flight 24 hours before departure. From there, they can tap their phone onto the tags to activate its antenna and display a scannable barcode and flight information on an e-paper screen.
"This technology allows our guests to tag their own bags in just seconds and makes the entire check-in process almost all off-airport," Charu Jain, senior vice president of merchandising and innovation at Alaska Airlines, said in a press release announcing the new feature in July. "Not only will our electronic bag tags allow our guests to quickly drop off their luggage after they arrive at the airport, the devices will also give our employees the opportunity to spend more one-on-one time with guests who ask for assistance and reduce lines at our lobbies."
In its statement, the airline says it plans to first launch the new system with an initial 2,500 frequent flyers with the company later this year. The next phase will allow passengers to purchase the product for $70 apiece, The Points Guy reports.