Technology Meets Travel: Self-Service Bag Drop

Heathrow International Airport has launched a new self-serve baggage drop with Australian based Qantas airlines. The self-serve bag drop will allow passengers to check-in at a kiosk and print a bag tag. The passenger then attaches their own tag to their bag and places it themselves on the conveyer belt. Heathrow expects this service will be popular with its 30 million annual business travelers. During the trial of this new “service,” (I’m not really sure how you can call do-it-yourself a service) which launched on October 31, staff members will be on hand to assist passengers.

Heathrow’s Terminal 3 Director, Kathryn Leahy, said, “This is an important step in our ongoing journey to provide the latest technology to our passengers at Heathrow. We know our passengers are quick to adopt new technology and embrace the idea of having more control over their travel experience.”

I’m not sure if this move is really about allowing passengers to control their own travel experience or finding ways to reduce overhead and eliminate staff. It will be interesting to see how the trial works out for Heathrow and Qantas as I’m sure there will be a lot of initial glitches. Just wait until someone prints a bag tag and it’s not for their final destination. Will they notice?

Ironically, Qantas Regional General Manger for the UK said, “At Qantas Airways we remain committed to providing our passengers with a premium level of service.” I’m just not convinced this is a “premium level of service.”

What do you think?

4 Comments on "Technology Meets Travel: Self-Service Bag Drop"

  1. Air Canada started this at Toronto YYZ last year (?) and I hated it. It’s simply a cost cutting measure IMO and no added value to customers

    If I see a price drop from this, great; but I don’t, so we’re paying the same for less value/service 🙁 Unless we fly on LCC airlines then it’s “acceptable”

  2. We’ve had this in Australia for a while now and it seems to work. If it gets me through check in faster, I’d use it

  3. It’s been working pretty well in Australia and New Zealand for quite some time, and while I wish there was a section for people who can’t follow simple onscreen instructions, and that the air New Zealand version allowed you to search by something other than booking reference, it generally speeds up my transit through checkin.

    Now, when standing a a check in counter at another airline and the checkin person is taking 5 minutes or more to tap away on their keyboard while I wait impatiently I wonder what the hell they could be doing…. Of course they’re fighting with some ancient green screen checkin system.

  4. Having once missed a flight at Heathrow solely because of a very slow and lengthy line for baggage check in, this seems like a good idea. Since I now go through the status line, this is no longer a big deal for me, but I see a lot of non-status folks wondering if they are going to make it to the front of the line in time to make their plane. However, for me it is all about speed. At stores, I avoid the self check out. The clerks are usually a whole lot faster at scanning items than I am, and I am glad to keep them employed.

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