Continental Airlines reports that it had its highest volume of customer check-ins through its automated kiosk program in December with more than 650,000 domestic eTicket customers using the eService Center check-in over other traditional means.
The airline claims it has the most extensive network of automated check-in kiosks in the industry with 607 eService Centers in 92 airports throughout the United States. More than one third of these kiosks are located in its hub markets of Newark, Houston and Cleveland.
The number of customers using eService Centers has nearly doubled in the past year. In airports where kiosks are available, self-check-in is fast becoming the preferred method of check-in among eTicket customers, with usage rates exceeding 40%.
“Since the events of September 11, Continental has looked at several ways to expedite the check-in process to help offset the additional time needed for security checks,” said Larry Kellner, President of Continental Airlines. “eService Centers provide fast and convenient check-in for customers who want more control over their check-in experience, while allowing our agents to interact more with customers. The net result is shorter waits at the ticket counter for all Continental customers and more time for our personnel to focus on those requiring special attention or additional security screening.”
On the date of travel, Continental Airlines` eService Centers allow customers to check-in for a flight, obtain a boarding pass, choose or change a seat assignment, add or change frequent flyer information, change a flight itinerary, purchase tickets and confirm OnePass Elite upgrades. Luggage check is also available at all ticket counter locations.
In 1995, Continental pioneered the use of self-check-in technology as a complement to its industry leading eTicket program. The airline plans to expand the service to include Internet check-in later in the year. Locations of Continental`s eService Centers may be found at continental.com.
Two weeks ago, two other US airlines announced new kiosk ticketing services.
US Airways said its new e-ticket check-in kiosks are for customers at the carrier`s Pittsburgh hub, where the US Airways system offers 498 flights daily to 112 non-stop destinations. US Airways` E-Ticket Kiosks offer customers an opportunity to check-in electronically, bypassing ticket counter lines. Using the touch-screen system, customers traveling domestically can purchase tickets, obtain boarding passes, select seats or check bags by using a credit card or Dividend Miles membership card. The kiosks also can provide customers with information about the status of their flight.
“We are having great success with the kiosks in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston,” said Al Crellin, US Airways senior vice president of Customer Service. “With the 12 E-Ticket Kiosks and three additional units at security checkpoints, we also will be able to ease movement of passengers through the Pittsburgh airport on high capacity days.”
In addition to the new kiosks at Pittsburgh, US Airways has E-Ticket Kiosks in operation at New York`s LaGuardia Airport, at Boston Logan, at Philadelphia International and at Reagan Washington National. The company announced that it expects to have more than 300 machines in place at airports across its system by the end of the first quarter of 2002.
America West announced that it has made additional enhancements at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to keep passenger flow moving smoothly from check in to boarding. The company said it became the first airline at Sky Harbor to use roving gate agents. As the airline begins a test phase of the wireless technology, mobile agents will assist passengers who need to check in for their flights. The agents can print boarding passes, change seat assignments, provide gate and flight information, check FlightFund account activity and make future reservations.
The airline has added equipment in order to offer four check-in lanes at both security checkpoints A and B in Terminal 4 of Sky Harbor. One of the lanes at each checkpoint will be dedicated to our most frequent flyers, to ensure they can move efficiently through security while other customers who haven`t flown since Sept. 11 may need more time to become familiar with the security procedures. This service will be in effect at least through the holidays.
“The addition of roving agents is part of our overall infrastructure plan that leverages our technical expertise and innovation in support of our customer service imperatives,`` said Joe Beery, vice president and chief information officer for America West.
Last November, America West initiated several other services to expedite the check-in process including recalling more than 70 furloughed workers, adding additional x-ray and magnetometer machines and installing six self-service kiosks.