An American Airlines MD-80.

An American Airlines MD-80.

I love the self-service kiosks at airports. I was one of the first people to use them when they came out and I am still a huge fan today.

One of the most annoying issues is printing out my boarding pass and then waiting for someone to come over and give me my bag-tag. Sometimes I can end up waiting longer for my tag than I took actually checking in. American Airlines is trying to change the game by allowing passengers to print off their own bag tags.

Already at 35 airports around the world, passengers can print off their own luggage tag, but that hasn’t been the case in the US. American is giving this a six month test in Austin, TX to see how it goes. Your ID still needs to be checked, and an agent needs to watch the conveyor belt to make sure only authorized bags make their way on board, but this should be able to speed up the check-in process.

Some passengers and airline employees are not happy. Passengers feel this is a step backward with customer service and employees are afraid about keeping their job. I think it boils down to the cost of a ticket. Airlines need to get creative to be competitive and if this is a way to speed things up and save a few dollars on a ticket, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it being used more in the future. Delta and Alaska Airlines have already shown some interest and I imagine that others are keeping a close eye on how this goes.

What do you think? Is this the future or a lame-duck idea?

To learn more about this program, check out the story I posted on AOL Travel News.

Image: John Rogers

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Would I self-tag my own bags? Sure. As long as I get to waive my own fees…

Heck we should do self serve security, put vending machines in the back of the plane for food and drink and load and unload our own bags.. Do we get to de-ice the planes too? Where does it stop? I don’t think getting rid of front line employee’s is the answer… They need to look at the back office and stop giving millions in bonus’s to exec’s when their airline is losing money. Just my 2 cents.

James Burke

I like self-tagging. It doesn’t save a ton of time though at all airports. At YVR it makes things super quick – same at YYC, but its hit-and-miss at YYZ and YUL (If you are at YHZ anytime after 0900 there is no wait anyways…)(for Air Canada). WestJet does self tagging as well at YYC, but it is still quite slow.

Im surprised its taken them this long for an airline in America to do this. Here in New Zealand its been happening for a few years now. I personally think its great, quick and easy. However it does take the older generation who perhaps arnt that great with computers as such a bit of time to go through the process.

LOL Long Time Observer! I think self-tagging is fine. I think if anything there could or should be a security concern about who tags what bag and where the bag came from. I think there is something about handing a bag to a real person that can look you in the eyes and ask if the bag’s been in our posession the whole time.

…plus, how would people like Lil Jon check their bags without someone to talk to.


But one more reason to avoid flying whenever possible.

I will happily tag and drop my own bag off… The problem I forsee is a mass cancellation or losing a plane load of bags and there ending up being only 3 front facing staff left to assist.

Air New Zealand have done this for a while now. Works really well at speeding up the checkin process (Although, in New Zealand you’re ID isn’t checked before you fly domestically)

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