Holiday Travelers Beware

Since the school semester ended a few days ago, I’ve flown to a couple of places for work and leisure. One of the things that I’ve been able to find really helpful is the ability to check in online prior to arriving at the airport. This has been helpful in speeding up the departure process and allows me to arrive later at the airport then I have had to in the past.

The first couple of times that I took advantage of the online check-in, everything went by smoothly. I was flying with Continental, and the process couldn’t have been easier. Upon arrival at the airport, I would check in again with the kiosk, and a Continental agent would take my bags for me. I only had to get to the airport about 45 minutes before my scheduled departure time.

As the holiday travel rush has started in the past few days, I have to say that the situation has gotten progressively worse. When flying with AirTran, I encountered a couple of problems. On the day of my flight from Houston, the flight was delayed and the kiosks wouldn’t work. I had to check in at the desk, which wasn’t too big of a deal because there wasn’t a line.

Once returning to Houston (yesterday, five days before Christmas), it was a disaster. The situation was partly my fault, because I underestimated Atlanta holiday traffic, but at the same time AirTran says that it is “recommended” that I arrive to the airport at least 45 minutes before departure. I had again checked in online, and arrived to the airport with about 45 minutes left. Once I reached the check-in desk, a big sign stated that if baggage check in would be closed 45 minutes prior to departure. In other words, I was screwed. The lines were long and the kiosks were once again not working. By the time I got to the ticket counter, there was only 20 minutes left until my flight. Consequently, I missed my flight and had to catch the next one (5 hours later). Not the most pleasant way to get back home.

In any case, make sure that you arrive extra early to the airport if you plan on traveling the next few days. I know that this is probably a given, but the advertised benefits of online check-in (go straight to the gate! no waiting in line!), are in fact not true during the holiday season.

1 Comment so far

  1. Eric (unregistered) on December 22nd, 2005 @ 12:34 am

    I’ll be flying out the day after Christmas, bright and early in the morning. Hopefully, noone else will be.

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