American And Delta Too Busy To Tag Your Bags, Want You To Do It Yourself

Thought there wasn’t much more the airlines could fob off on the customer? You were wrong. Apparently, the employees at American and Delta are so slow at tagging your checked bags that the airlines think you’d do it better yourself.

The two carriers, as well as Air Canada, are trying to launch test programs that would have passengers tagging their own luggage with stickers printed out at self-service kiosks.

American and Air Canada are both hoping to start their trials out at Boston’s Logan International Airport between now and the crush of the holiday travel season; Delta’s test target has not yet been named.

From USA Today:

The trial will let the airlines’ customers at Boston Logan print tags from several customized self-service kiosks and place them directly on their luggage without agent supervision. Passengers will still have to see an agent in a dedicated line who will check the ID, scan the tag to validate it and place bags on the conveyor belt.

The bags will still be screened by TSA after they’ve been tagged, so there is no change in security nor any added risk, say the airlines.

There are currently 32 airports in the world that already have self-tagging kiosks of some sort. At some of these, it’s not even required to see an airline agent after you’ve tagged your bags.

This is just the latest move to automate the checking-in and boarding process. As reported this summer, Continental has begun testing self check-in at some of their gates in Houston.

Airlines may test do-it-yourself traveler bag tagging [USA Today]

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  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Hmm…

    I’ve never had a problem with Air Canada in my life, (And I’ve flown Air Canada A LOT) so I’m gonna take this news on a bit of faith. Who knows, it might just turn out to be the greatest thing since the self-serve check-in kiosks. :3

  2. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    I’m not sure this is necessarily anti-consumer…it may be another way to avoid standing in a long line, like the check-in line.

    If you have an e-ticket, you already just go to the self-service kiosk to get your boarding pass…but if you have a bag to check, you have to go and wait in line at the counter, along with all the schmucks who have never flown before, who have lost their tickets, are trying to check a grand piano, have 42 screaming children with them, etc.

    With this thing, you can print out your boarding pass, slap a sticker on your checked bag, and *hopefully* move in an orderly fashion through a self-served baggage check line where there’s really not much that can hold you up.

    I’ll reserve my final declaration on it until I see it in action…but I am thinking this is probably just fine.

    • gparlett says:

      +1. This is an excellent move, I have no problem printing my own baggage tags if it means a shorter line and a line that is full of at least somewhat savvy travelers.

    • longdvsn says:

      it’s just another way to cut personnel. If the airlines could find a way to do it without compromising security they’d have you down on the tarmac to load your own luggage into the bottom of the plane too.

      • longdvsn says:

        to clarify…the airlines are not doing this to help you, they’re doing to make more money by laying people off. They won’t lower ticket prices either. In fact, coming next year: A new fee to put the tag on yourself!

        • Gulliver says:

          Please let us know the FARE of a round trip ticket between say New York and Los Angeles today versus what that was in 1975. Exclude all taxes. You will find that against inflation air travel is WAY cheaper than it ever has been. Don’t let facts screw up your ant though

        • GrayMatter says:

          “coming next year: A new fee to put the tag on yourself!”

          Does that mean “a fee to put the tag onto the luggage by yourself”
          -or-
          “a fee to apply a tag onto ones own body”?

    • dcarrington01 says:

      This just means the lines will be longer to get to the self service check in kiosk, then the self service bag tag. What can go wrong, right? Ever been to a Wal-Mart or home Depot where they have the self check outs, and some person (usually old) doesn’t know how to use them but insists on trying to figure it out when it is busy?

      • jessjj347 says:

        But if we start using this sort of technology now, we won’t have to sit there figuring out how to use self-serve technology when we’re old :)

      • Rachacha says:

        Not necessarily. Most times when I am using self check-in to check my bags, I have gone through all of the necessary setps, and printed out my boarding passes and then have to wait for several minutes until the agent can attach the stickers to my bag. During this time, the kiosk that I am at is not available fur use. If the machines allowed the traveler to apply the sticker, and you could throw it on the conveyor belt yourself I would be out of there much faster, freeing up the terminal for the next person. You will still get the person or group that needs extra help, and the agents can certainly help them, but for travelers who are comfortable traveling and using technology, it should speed up the process.

    • sleze69 says:

      Until I experience it first hand, I think this is a good thing.

  3. danmac says:

    I don’t particularly mind this…at least this way I can confirm that the correct destination is printed on the tag before the bag goes down the belt.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      This was what I was thinking, but I forgot to add it to my earlier comment.

      This way, if your suitcase ends up in Timbuktu, the only person you have to blame is yourself.

      Oh god, I smell a wave of ‘lost luggage’ complaints potentially arising from this.

      • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

        And a corresponding increase in airlines saying “not our fault, you must have tagged it wrong.”

    • katarzyna says:

      Yes, exactly. I always double check that the airline person put on the right tag, but I’d just as soon do it myself.

  4. pixiegirl says:

    When ever I fly they usually have only 1 or 2 people manning the 10-15 self check stations. So you end up waiting 10-15 minutes just for them to come over and tag your bag and they pretty much take their sweet time doing it. I wouldn’t mind tagging my own bags, however at this point I’m already checking myself in and if I end up tagging my own bags I’m starting to feel like I’m an employee for the airlines. I wouldn’t mind tagging my own bags if say I got a discount for doing it. You want me to tag my own bag fine I will but then don’t charge me baggage fees then. JMO.

  5. sirwired says:

    Why not? I, for one, LIKE the self-service kiosks! When I don’t have special needs, I can get in and out with little waiting. Being able to speed up bag-check is a win-win for everybody. I get out of line faster, the airline reduces its cost, and the current scrum of people waiting for bag tags gets much better.

  6. dr_drift says:

    Seems nice, doesn’t really bother me at all. I do wonder, though, what kind of responsibility that it takes off of the airline when it comes to lost luggage. Wasn’t there recently a big settlement with regard to that exact same matter?

  7. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    A problem with this system was pointed out to me just a minute ago:

    What happens when a self-serve bag checker checks overweight bags? Do they have an attendant sitting at the self-serve baggage belt, weighing your checked bags and levying fees? Can you pay cash, or just by credit/debit?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      I would imagine there’s a scale on the self-serve baggage machine, and it will prompt you to pay for overweight bags.

      …and the person who verifies your tag when you hand your baggage over can easily check it for size restrictions, and boot you to the regular check-in line if you don’t fit.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Man..I’ve gotten out of almost every overweight baggage charge I’ve come across. Taking the human out of the checking equation may cause me to actually have to pay the fee now.

    • Geekybiker says:

      Easy. Just lift up a little on the handle when it’s weighing the bag. ;)

  8. Mike says:

    So I have to tag my own bags, then I STILL have to wait in line and see an agent. That sucks. If they made it so I didn’t have to see an agent like the other airports mentioned that would be cool.

  9. Nick1693 says:

    Why is it Boston Logan is always the test airport? Stop giving us all this crap.
    (Can you tell I’m from around Boston?)

  10. chaesar says:

    One less responsibility AND a way to shave off expenses. So now if a bag doesn’t get to its proper destination the airline can just toss up their hands and assume it was customer error.

    • chaesar says:

      maybe next they’ll let me pat myself down, mmmmmm

      • dr_drift says:

        “Do you absolutely, positively, really really really promise that you patted yourself down and that you didn’t find any weapons? And I want the God’s honest truth!”

  11. spongebue says:

    I work for an airline, and part of my job is to actually tag the bags. Honestly, I don’t like this idea. While the job isn’t that hard, there’s a little more to it than you might think. First thoughts that come to mind:

    1) When we tag the bag, we also check your ID to make sure that it is you checking it. Maybe not the most important security measure in the world, but it’s there and wouldn’t be much longer under this system.

    2) It took me a couple tries to realize the fastest way to get the peeling off the sticker, and I can see a lot of people trying to peel from the wrong side or something. This isn’t a major problem for frequent fliers, who would get used to it pretty quickly, but when you have the grandparents that fly once a year for Christmas, you can bet that they’ll hold up the line for everybody else.

    3) There are still other things that wouldn’t always be considered. The biggest thing I can think of is the duffel bags where the two handle straps are held together. A lot of people would just put the tag around that, but if something were to happen that they came apart, the tag isn’t going to stay on much longer. It’s better to just wrap the tag around one individual handle.

  12. pixiestix says:

    We don’t pay all those ridiculous fees to do YOUR work. What ever happened to tagging the back while you’re being checked in…by a human?

  13. chaesar says:

    One less responsibility AND a way to shave off expenses. So now if a bag doesn’t get to its proper destination the airline can just toss up their hands and assume it was customer error.

    • Peacock (Now In Extra Crispy) says:

      And…Flying Southwest from Chicago to Burbank. Bags tagged by SW at Midway Airport. Bag tags said BUR. Didn’t matter. Bags went to Buffalo. BUR/BUF same difference, right? Not exactly, since I showed up at Burbank, but my bags didn’t until the next day. I hope they enjoyed the trip to New York.

  14. hypochondriac says:

    So can’t you get away with weight limits? Weight the bag, print the tags. Then stuff the bag before applying the tags

  15. Etoiles says:

    Why are so many things (TSA measaures, this) pilot tested at BOS?

    • JonC says:

      For new TSA security measures, Boston has always been on the forefront because two of the 9/11 hijacked planes left from Boston. Logan Airport was the one of the first to x-ray all checked baggage after 9/11, and way before the government mandated date.

  16. SlappyFrog says:

    This is not going to end well.

  17. UnicornMaster says:

    How will they upcharge us if the luggage weights more than 49lbs or is too large? Will they just automatically charge us or hold our bags hostage?

  18. sufreak says:

    How about weight check of the bags?

  19. vastrightwing says:

    I see a trend here:
    1) Self reservations
    2) Print your own tickets.
    3) Self check-in (including scanning your passport on international flights)
    4) weighing and tagging your own bags.

    Soon it will be load your bag into the cargo hold, fly your own plane, digging your own bag out of the cargo hold and the circle is complete: an airline with no employees. Completely operated by paying customers. Awesome!
    No employees, unions or expenses: just money flowing in.

    This will end well.

  20. Buckus says:

    Eventually, you’ll have to do your own pat-down and security screen, as well as put the fuel in the plane and serve your own soda. Also, you’ll need to put your own bag on the plane and get it off again later, but they’ll still charge a checked bag fee.

  21. el-brazo-onofre says:

    This will be great if I don’t have to wait for someone and can just throw my bag on the belt and go. No, you don’t need to check my ID. That means nothing, and airline employee spongebue admits it.

    At some point maybe we’ll be throwing our bags directly in the cargo hold. Don’t tell RyanAir.

  22. MrEvil says:

    Actually, I like this idea. Might actually alleviate some of the lines for checked baggage. I mean someone with a firearm in their checked luggage isn’t going to be able to use this system, obviously. But it does help keep the line moving.

  23. NeverLetMeDown says:

    Sounds great. 98 times out of 100, the kiosk is a better check in experience than a person. I have zero need to have someone interpose themselves between me and the actual flight and seat information in the vast majority of the cases, don’t see why I need someone to put the tag on my luggage. That being said, I virtually never check bags, so it’s kind of a moot point for me.

  24. basilray says:

    I am still going to be expected to tip the jerks who put my bag on the conveyor belt? That’s the real question here!

  25. Primarylupine says:

    I like where this is going. Charge me more, and then let me scan myself through the “security” checkpoint. Another fee to load my baggage on the little conveyor truck and drive it up to the plane, and then just let me fly the plane. Then the whiny airline asshats can sit back and collect pay while everyone does their job for them.

  26. PsiCop says:

    Given that airline personnel still need to handle the bag and scan the tag, it’s not clear to me how this saves anyone time. It may well incur a COST of added time, dealing e.g. with misapplied tags, etc.

  27. ClaudeKabobbing says:

    I guess this means that when the airlines lose your luggage its not their fault since they didnt put the tags on the bags.

  28. pot_roast says:

    Uh.. This is actually a GOOD IDEA. The current kiosk system has you printing stuff at the kiosk and then you still have to wait in line for a bag tag.

    Also, customers can look at their own bag tags and verify for themselves that their bags have been tagged properly. Fewer lost bags, perhaps?

    Overall, this is a good idea.

  29. chefguru says:

    So here’s my question… if I’m doing MORE of their job for them, how much are they reducing the cost of my ticket to save them the few extra dollars on their bottom line?