Alaska Airlines Introduces High-Tech Check-in System

Today, Alaska Airlines unveils a prototype of its high-tech check-in system at Anchorage International Airport that does away with the traditional ticket counter. 

Instead, the new system separates the check-in process from the bag-tagging process to create a more flowing, natural pathway from curbside to planeside for customers.

“The check-in process really hasn`t changed much since the stage coach days,” said Ed White, Alaska`s vice president of ground operations. “Our goal was to reinvent the check-in process in a way that makes sense to 21st century travelers.”

The prototype, which is installed adjacent to the existing ticket counter, provides a glimpse of what`s to come when Alaska Airlines moves its check-in facilities to its new terminal at the airport, which is scheduled to open in 2004.

Instead of queuing up at a ticket counter, customers will check in and receive their boarding passes at an array of Alaska Airlines Instant Travel Machines (ITMs) in the area. They also can check in at any ITM located elsewhere in the airport, or at an offsite location, as well as check in online at


While customers without luggage will proceed directly to the security checkpoint, those with luggage will be directed to new, centrally located baggage drop-off points. There, agents will scan customers` boarding passes and tag their baggage before the bags are carried away on a cutting-edge conveyor belt system.

According to White, a scaled-down version of the old-fashioned ticket counter will still exist in the future, but only for the small percentage of passengers traveling today who have more complex transactions or need additional assistance.

Alaska Airlines became the first North American carrier to sell tickets online in 1995, and in 1999 was the first carrier in the world to allow customers to check in for flights online via the Internet. More than one-third of Alaska customers currently check in electronically via either the Web or at one of more than 370 Instant Travel Machines located at 71 airports.

Related stories on ITN:

(21/02/2002) Electronic Check-In Record for Alaska Airlines.

(01/05/2001) Alaska Airlines 10 Millionth Automated Check-In