The Southwest Airlines guide to successful offsite check-in


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How do you establish an offsite check-in program?

soutwest-logoIdentify airports where your customer base needs a solution to ease the physical constraint of the airport experience. Congested lobby or ticket counters are a good indicator, but the introduction of the baggage to the screening process is essential to the success of the program. If you can process customers with more ease but you surge the bag flow with negative throughput does not equate to a successful service solution.

What are the costs of establishing such a program?

Minimum, if any, cost to the airline.

What are the real challenges to establishing an offsite check-in program?

In some markets, the off-site check-in program is based on seasonality of travel, which varies by location. Travel in the Las Vegas market tends to be steady year round, with minor demand reductions in the months of July and August due to a decrease in convention activity.

Travel in strong Cruise markets tends to be very seasonal. The significant variation in traffic is due to the repositioning of cruise vessels every year.
Other challenges include: distance from the off-site location to the airport; traffic congestion; and airline schedules.

What criteria must a location fulfill in order to be suitable for offsite check-in?

Ideally, offsite check-in is suited for locations with strong consumer appeal. The location must give the airlines participating in off-site check-in access to high volumes of customers concentrated in very strategic areas, like the Las Vegas Strip and the South Florida Ports. In addition, the location should be a focus city for the airline offering offsite services.

Can offsite check-in work in any location?

No, this service is only successful in markets where it makes sense for the customer and complements the operation and baggage process at the airport.

What regulatory approvals are needed and how are these secured?

The airlines and airports that participate in offsite check-in are regulated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Therefore, the protocols used in the offsite check-in program must comply with the security program the TSA has approved for both entities.

How prevalent is door-to-door pick-up of luggage at present and could it become the number one choice of passengers?

The door-to-door luggage pick-up service is provided by several companies. In many cases, these companies utilize the services of overnight delivery companies, like FEDEX, UPS, or DHL, to fulfil the service. Prices vary but are generally much higher than fees charged by some airlines (bags fly free on Southwest Airlines), and fees charged at off-site check-in locations. Therefore, this premium travel service does not appeal to the average traveler.