Kudos to JetBlue on several fronts: First, moving past the burden of online check-in would be a really nice leap forward. Second, JetBlue doesn't intend to make automatic check-in a perk for the elite, but plans on extending the service to passengers throughout the plane.
JetBlue thinks it has solved the online check-in hassle — as the airline eliminated it for some customers today and plans to expand the ranks of eligible passengers through 2015.
For JetBlue customers who book Even More Space seats with extra legroom on domestic itineraries there’s no longer any need to check-in online or at the airport prior to the flight. Instead, starting July 9, these customers began receiving an email 24 hours before their flight with options to print their their boarding passes or download a mobile boarding pass via the airline’s iOS or Android apps.
Then they can simply check their bags at the airport or proceed right to the gate without having to hunt for a confirmation number and finding time to check-in online prior to the trip.
In streamlining the check-in process, JetBlue joins the growing ranks of airlines that are doing something similar.
In the U.S., for example, Porter Airlines issues a boarding pass and seat assignment and sends them in automatic flight reminders.
And, United Airlines offers Auto Check-In for return flights only.
Several foreign airlines offer similar auto check-in services.
While the service is available for Even More Space passengers on domestic itineraries today, JetBlue intends to expand what it calls Automatic Check-in to passengers in “core seats,” i.e. economy class, in the beginning of 2015.
International passengers, and those passengers who don’t have seat assignments, would be next in line in 2015 to take advantage of Automatic Check-in, the airline states.
One side benefit to the new service is it is “also xpected to enable the ability to catch and notify customers of any information inconsistencies or issues with special service requests in a reservation that might otherwise remain unresolved until their arrival at the airport,” JetBlue states. “For those customers not currently eligible for automatic check-in, or those customers who need to address outstanding requirements within their booking, the standard check-in notification process will remain in place.”
JetBlue spokesperson Morgan Johnston says eliminating these sorts of problems even before passengers arrive at the airport could help to reduce wait times at ticket counters.
In the future, the tool JetBlue developed for Automatic Check-In may even be able to flag problems for passengers on international flights if, for example, the name on their tickets doesn’t match names on their passports, Johnston says.
“The idea of asking customers to jump an additional hurdle before their flight is an increasingly antiquated concept,” says Blair Koch, JetBlue vice president commercial and shared development services. “By having the right systems in place, we can remove this step, and even help identify and prevent issues that can hinder customers from fully enjoying their travel experience.”
Johnston of Jetblue says JetBlue was well-positioned to implement Automatic Check-In because Jetblue has a low number of no-shows, doesn’t overbook, and operates a lot of direct flights.
Passengers who are emailed boarding passes with the Automatic Check-In process and don’t show up for the flight would forfeit their nonrefundable tickets just as any passenger would who bought a nonrefundable ticket and was a no-show, Johnston said.
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Photo credit: JetBlue's Automatic Check-in service could reduce lines at airport ticket counters. Pictured, a passenger walks past a JetBlue advertisement at Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. Bryan Snyder / Reuters