Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have opened the first phase of their $18 million ‘Airport of the Future’ check-in facility at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.The patented design, which replaces traditional ticket counters with customer-friendly islands of check-in kiosks and bag-check stations, helps reduce customer wait times.
“The Airport of the Future will transform the way customers check in for flights at our main hub in Seattle,” said Steve Jarvis, Alaska’s vice president of sales, marketing and customer experience. “The new design makes check-in faster and easier, and demonstrates how significantly innovation can improve the customer experience.”
The first of the project’s three islands opened to serve Alaska customers, with the second and third islands slated to open by mid-2008. The new facility will serve Horizon customers beginning in February 2008.
The first island has 11 check-in kiosks and 16 bag-check stations. When completed, the facility’s three islands will offer 50 check-in kiosks and 56 bag-check points. Alaska and Horizon will continue to operate a portion of their traditional ticket counters during the ongoing construction.
The new design allows customers who haven’t already checked in online to print their boarding passes at the check-in kiosks. Customers with only carry-on baggage then proceed directly to the security checkpoint. Passengers with checked luggage proceed to one of the bag-check points, where customer service employees scan customers’ boarding passes and affix bag tags. A newly designed conveyor-belt system at each bag-check point weighs and automatically moves the baggage onto the main luggage conveyor belt on its way to the aircraft.
When the project is complete, the overall size of Alaska and Horizon’s check-in area at Sea-Tac will remain the same. However, through the removal of ticket counters and the relocation of office space upstairs to the mezzanine level, customer-service space will increase from about 9,000 square feet to nearly 14,000 square feet.
Alaska and Horizon customers represent nearly half of the passenger traffic at Sea-Tac. More than 7 million customers depart Sea-Tac on the airlines’ flights annually, with about three-quarters flying on Alaska and one-quarter flying on Horizon.
Alaska Airlines debuted the ‘Airport of the Future’ design in 2004 at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska, where the project reduced congestion in the check-in area and cut customer wait times in half. The airline has implemented similar, though smaller-scale, designs in Los Angeles; Boise, Idaho; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and several locations in Alaska.
Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air serve 92 cities through an expansive network in Alaska, the Lower 48, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico. This year Alaska Airlines celebrates its 75th anniversary, marking the airline’s growth from a single-aircraft operation in 1932 to one of the largest U.S. carriers.