Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is there a benefit to checking in online?

Two major airlines allow web check-in for domestic flights: Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines. Philippine Airlines does not have the feature.

Web check-in is an advantage for those who booked their flights on-line. With web check-in, it completes the cycle of reduced exposure to human personnel thus freeing up queuing time.

There are guidelines. For Cebu Pacific, check in is allowed within 48 to 4 hours before departure, 24 to 3 hours for Air Philippines. Once checked in, one can no longer change the status. You are considered "flown," thus no refund and flight changes will be considered.

Web check-in technically means you forego the 2nd step of presenting yourself at the airline check in counter (1st step is the entry to the airport through the security guard). Your next step is paying the terminal fee and showing up at least 30 minutes before departure time at the pre-departure area. If you however have a baggage to check-in, you are required to present yourself to the web check-in counter which relatively has a faster processing time. With a baggage to check-in, you defeat the purpose though of reducing waiting time at the airport and the queue.

Checking-in online already gives you the seat number and your boarding pass. To some extent your boarding gate has already been pre-identified. You must print your boarding pass provided at website yourself for presentation with your identification card either at the security check or before boarding.  (If you fail to do this, web on-line counter is the recourse.)

One clear advantage of this feature in Cebu Pacific and Air Philippines is you need not rush to the airport an hour (or two for Cebu Pacific) before departure. Your seat gets forfeited only when you don’t meet the boarding time. In this case, you also forfeit your payment.

Try it out if it fits your needs.  It did for me in this month's leg.  Though I still prefer to be at the airport early to update my blogsite and post online if there is a free wi-fi.

This is a personal essay. Check the airline sites for the official guide. Policies may differ. Rules also differ for international flights.

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