Checking in is a crucial step passengers must complete before they board a plane. This process involves registering for a boarding pass and ensuring that bags and other belongings are ready for the luggage compartment.
Presently, there are various methods for checking in encompassing both offline and online options. In this article, I will explain these different methods.
Before explaining the methods of checking in, let's discuss the preparations required for a seamless check-in experience.
The main requirement for check-in is a valid form of identification. For domestic flights, either an ID card or a passport is acceptable. However, for international travel, a passport is mandatory.
Another necessary item is your airplane ticket or proof of purchase. This is often sent via email post-purchase. You have the option to either print the ticket or present a digital version at check-in.
Many airlines today verify passenger identities without needing a physical ticket, as the information is already in their system. However, you can also have your ticket ready just in case.
When packing checked baggage, first check whether or not you are bringing any of prohibited items. To learn more about these restrictions, refer to airline guidelines on banned items in checked baggage.
For added protection, consider wrapping your luggage in plastic. Wrapping services are available at most airports and can be done for a fee to safeguard your belongings from damage during transit.
Boarding a plane differs significantly from catching a train. While you might board a train just before it departs, airports and airlines have strict check-in time limits that all passengers must follow.
These limits are crucial as they allow staff to complete various pre-flight procedures, such as loading luggage. Missing the check-in deadline means you cannot board the flight.
For domestic flights, check-in counters at airports open two hours before the flight's scheduled departure. They close 45 minutes before departure, so passengers have approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to check in.
Check-in for international flights starts earlier, typically three hours before departure. However, these counters close earlier than domestic ones, usually one hour before departure.
Passengers who prefer online check-in have the opportunity to do so 24 to 72 hours before departure. Some airlines even offer this service starting 7 days before the flight.
The deadline for online check-in generally aligns with that of offline check-in. For domestic flights, this deadline is 45 minutes before departure, and for international flights, it's one hour before departure.
As I mentioned above, checking in for an airplane involves several methods, and understanding these can make your travel experience smoother. Here are the steps for the different check-in methods:
The most traditional method at all airports is counter check-in, where you simultaneously check in and drop off baggage. First, consult the airport's information screens to locate the appropriate counter for your flight.
Upon reaching the counter, present your ticket and identification. If you have luggage or items to stow in the aircraft's hold, this is where you'll check them in.
The counter staff will inspect your luggage for prohibited items. Once cleared, your luggage will be taken away by a conveyor belt.
After completing the check-in process, you'll receive a boarding pass detailing your seat assignment, boarding time, departure gate, and other essential information. If you need help understanding your boarding pass, check this article or ask airport staff for help.
This method is increasingly popular at major airports. It involves using a check-in kiosk located near the counters. At the machine, you'll need to scan your ID or passport and enter your ticket number.
If the details are correct, the machine will print your boarding pass. Should you have luggage to drop off, proceed to the counter as in the first method. However, if you're traveling without checked baggage, you can head straight to the security check area.
A cutting-edge method I recently encountered is at Changi Airport in Singapore, although it might be available at other airports too.
Here, passengers can complete both check-in and baggage drop using a machine, bypassing the need for counter interaction. For detailed steps on this process, refer to the article below:
Online check-in has become increasingly popular. Passengers don't have to wait in long lines at the airport check-in counters.
This process can be completed via the airline's official website or mobile app. Typically, it involves entering your identity number and confirming a few details about your flight.
Upon completing online check-in, you'll receive a digital boarding pass, which serves the same purpose as a traditional one. With this digital pass, you can proceed directly to the boarding area.
What about luggage? If you have bags to check in, you'll still need to visit the check-in counter at the airport. However, airlines often provide a dedicated drop-off counter for those who have checked in online, minimizing wait times.
In summary, these steps outline the various check-in options available for air travel. Whether you're a first-time flyer or a seasoned traveler, this guide aims to simplify your pre-flight experience.