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Airport check-in with e tickets--do you HAVE to use the self check-in and how do you check your baggage?

Airport check-in with e tickets--do you HAVE to use the self check-in and how do you check your baggage?

Old Jun 29th, 2004, 06:51 AM
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Airport check-in with e tickets--do you HAVE to use the self check-in and how do you check your baggage?

Our family (husband, me and two kids) will be traveling on American Airlines in August. I haven't flown in a long time and I read that now there are those kiosks in the airport where you check yourself in and get a boarding pass. Is this mandatory to use those machines? Are there no more counters where you check in? How do you check your luggage? Will the machine check our whole family at the same or each seperately?

Please forgive if I sound clueless......I am.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 06:58 AM
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It is not mandatory to use the kiosks. There are still check-in counters. If you have luggage, you can use the kiosks but still need to go to the counter to check your luggage. I've only used the kiosks when traveling alone but I think that if you have one record locator or confirmation number, then you would probably check everyone in at once.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 07:09 AM
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tom42 is right (get boarding pass at kiosk, get in another line to check baggage)-- and that's the situation for many airports. At my hometown airport (Long Beach CA, LGB), the self-service kiosks have one American staff person standing by to take care of checked baggage. Given how small the check-in lobby is, this is a key timesaver (curb to gate has never taken more than 20 minutes, including TSA screening-- and that includes an actual carry-on bag search).

For all self-service kiosks, you insert a credit card (for ID purposes only), and the machine will check in everyone in your party and issue all necessary boarding passes for that day's travel. Before leaving the machine, make sure everyone has passes for each leg of the trip. Note that you WON'T get boarding passes for the return trip.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 07:10 AM
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The kiosks are pretty easy, even with luggage. Generally (I haven't used American's kiosks), after the machine spits out your boarding pass, it will tell you which nearby station to go to to drop of your luggage.

You can also probably print your boarding passes from your computer 24 hours prior to your flight and avoid the kiosks.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 07:16 AM
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I have printed out my boarding passes at home for most of my flights in the past year and it has worked out well. There is a barcode on the printout that the airline employees will scan as you get on the plane, so don't fold that part of the boarding pass or it could take awhile for them to get it to scan. If I have bags to check, I have been able to check them very quickly at curbside.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 07:35 AM
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Curbside check-in is still available at many airports and now often includes getting your boarding pass, at least for your first leg (if you have a connection). Just be sure to tip the curbside people at least $1/bag. I find this the best way to deal with check in assuming the seat assignment is all set, needs no adjustment, etc. If I have a connecting flight and haven't been issued a boarding pass for that, I can get the second boarding pass at the gate where I board the first flight.

Otherwise, the way the kiosks work is that they check you in and issue a boarding pass (if you need a 2nd pass for a connecting flight BE SURE to wait to see if the machine issues that second pass, too -- it may take a second and a lot of people walk away leaving it behind). One of the screens at the kiosk will ask how many bags you'll be checking, so the baggage claim check will get printed out behind the kiosk-baggage desk. You'll then either wait in line at the kiosk-baggage desk to check your bag or someone at the kiosk-baggage desk will call your name to have you come forward to check your bag.

The only reason to go through the lines the traditional way is if you need special help with your ticketing or seat assignment.

Whether or not you use curbside checkin, you may still be asked to stand with your luggage until it goes through a security line-up. Airports vary as to how they handle it, but whatever you do, don't lock your luggage or you may be pulled out of line going to the gate and asked to come unlock it. I've begun to use twist-ties or plastic fasteners that security can easily undo, but which will show signs of tampering if someone other than TSA goes through the luggage (if TSA does, they leave a paper saying so in your luggage).

Allow a fair amount of time for check in with a crowd, but you shouldn't have any trouble using curbside or kiosk check in.
 
Old Jun 29th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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I like the kiosks because 99% of the time I only have carry on.

Because my printer at home is acting up, I don't print my boarding pass at home.
 
Old Jun 29th, 2004, 08:13 AM
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The kiosks make checking in--with or without luggage--a must faster process. You didn't say which airport you are leaving from, but you can save a lot of time at a major terminal by using the kiosk.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 08:19 AM
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If your final destination is international, then you have to check in at the counter.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 08:41 AM
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Many thanks to all of you. You are most helpful.

We are flying out of Cincinnati CVG into Dallas/FtWorth and then from there onto Las Vegas, so I guess we'll give the kiosk thing or curbside check-in a try.

Will there be seperate boarding passes for each member of our family for each segment of the trip that come out all at that first kiosk in Cincinnati?

Will this include boarding passes for our flights home a week later--or do we go back to a kiosk at Las VEgas airport to get boarding passes for the flights home?

thanks for your patient responses.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 08:45 AM
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Agree with the prior replies. One other thing to add. If your tickets are on different record locators it may be a hassle to use the machines. On my last trip with the family our tickets somehow ended up on 3 separate record locators. I just went to the counter knowing the machines may have a hard time finding them. It helps to have the record locator number on hand as well as even the agent had a hard time finding one of our tickets.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 09:00 AM
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As I noted: The kiosk will print out boarding passes for each leg of ONLY that day's trip for all parties being checked in. You will check in again on the return leg and get boarding passes for each leg for everyone in your party.

Happy travel!
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 09:01 AM
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I booked flights thru Travelocity. Is the "record locator" the same thing as my Travelocity Trip ID number or is it something else? If so, where do I find the record locator?
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 09:30 AM
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Just remembered, I had to have either my USAirways FF member card or my credit card I used to make the reservation to use the kiosk.
 
Old Jun 29th, 2004, 10:07 AM
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Checking in at the kiosk is really a timesaver. Yesterday, we were bumped up to an earlier flight from Phoenix to LAX on United. We were a bit surprised when we pulled out our boarding passes, but it worked well for us.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 10:14 AM
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We flew out of CVG to Salt Lake then to Fresno about a month ago. We have always used curbside checkin so I can't help with the kiosks (although I know people who have and like them). We usually arrive at the airport about 2 hours before our flight--drive our car to the curbside check in, check our bags and they give us our boarding passes (each got our own--for the 2 flights we were taking that day) and then drive our car to the long term parking. This has always worked well for us--we try to get there early enough to avoid the crowds and have never had to wait and everything went smoothly. We take the shuttle back to the airport--go through security and that is it. We don't have to worry about lugging our bags around the airport. We usually fly delta--american may be different--try the american airlines website--delta's tells you where they have curbside check in, airport wait times, etc.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 11:09 AM
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You may already know this, but in case you don't--you need picture ID's, some airlines have weight limits on luggage, some (if not all by now) do not serve meals on the planes. I like this better--they serve drinks and a small snack--but you are allowed to bring food and drinks on the plane. In fact, the airports I have been in are geared toward this and most food service places will pack sandwiches et al. for you to take with you. We hadn't flown since 911 until last fall and I was somewhat apprehensive about what to expect. It actually seems more organized (barring unforeseen problems of course) and there are less people in the parking lots and terminals since only those flying are allowed past security points.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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maj, that's a great tip re checking bags at curbside, THEN driving over to longterm parking...now why didn't I think of that? It's a pain to lug all the baggage onto the shuttle.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 12:12 PM
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Pretty convenient @ DFW when flying AA.
Always lots of help around for the hopelessly confused.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 01:44 PM
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Some other benefits of online check-in or kiosk check-in:

- Most airlines credit you 1,000 miles to your FF account, either for the first time you use those service, or all the time.

- You can do last minute seat changes. Many airline open up the bulkhead or exit-row seats only at that time, so you can grab them, and without having to BEG the agent.

- There may be other perks. For example, CO will give you a coupon for a free pair of headphones if you use online check-in.

Different airlines have different rules when online check-in take effect. Some 24 hours before flight time, some 30, etc. Also, I believe on some (like NW), you can even do that for international flights, though you probably have to show your passport to some agent somewhere before boarding.
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