When traveling by plane, one of the first decisions you need to make is whether to check in online or at the airport.
Both options have their pros and cons, and the best choice for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences.
Below you will find the pros and cons of checking in online or at the airport.
Online check in
Advantages of online check in
Checking in online has several benefits.
- One of the biggest advantages is convenience. You can check in from the comfort of your own home or office, and you don’t have to worry about arriving at the airport early to beat the check-in lines. Additionally, many airlines allow you to select your seat and print your boarding pass at home, saving you time at the airport.
- With today’s smartphones, you can normally have your boarding card on your phone to show rather than needing to print it.
- Another advantage of online check-in is that it can save you time at the airport. Online check-in typically opens 24 hours before your flight, and many airlines allow you to check in up to 30 days in advance. This means you can check in as soon as you know your travel plans and avoid the rush of people checking in at the airport on the day of the flight.
- Online check-in also allows you to make any necessary changes to your flight, such as seat assignments or baggage allowances, in advance. This can be especially helpful if you’re traveling with a large group or have special needs, as you can ensure that everyone is seated together and that any necessary accommodations are made in advance.
Disadvantages of online check-in
However, checking in online also has its drawbacks.
- One of the biggest disadvantages is that if you do not have a smartphone then you may need to print your boarding pass and have it with you when you arrive at the airport. If you forget to print your boarding pass or lose it, you will need to check in at the airport, which can be time-consuming and stressful.
- Additionally, if you have any questions or issues with your flight, you will need to contact the airline in advance, rather than speaking with an agent at the airport.
Airport Check in
Advantages of checking in at the airport
Checking in at the airport, on the other hand, can offer more flexibility.
- If you forget to check in online, you can still check in at the airport and get your boarding pass. Additionally, if you have any questions or issues with your flight, you can speak with an agent at the airport who can assist you.
- You should bear in mind that some budget airlines charge a fee for checking in at the airport.
- Another potential advantage of checking in at the airport is that you can check your bags and drop them off at the baggage counter. This can be helpful if you have a lot of luggage or if you’re traveling with fragile items that you want to ensure are handled carefully.
Disadvantages of checking in at the airport
However, checking in at the airport also has its drawbacks.
- One of the biggest disadvantages is that you will need to arrive at the airport early to beat the check-in lines. Additionally, you may need to wait in long lines at the check-in counter, baggage counter, and security checkpoint, which can be stressful and time-consuming.
- Another disadvantage of checking in at the airport is that you may not be able to select your seat in advance or make any necessary changes to your flight. This can be especially inconvenient if you’re traveling with a large group or have special needs, as you may not be able to ensure that everyone is seated together or that any necessary accommodations are made.
- Another consideration to take into account is that checking in online may require you to pay additional fees for certain services, such as seat selection or baggage check-in, that you would not have to pay if checking in at the airport.
Airport Self Check In
Many airports are now installing self check in machines that allow you to not only obtain your boarding pass but also to check your bags in too.
Although these can sometimes be quicker than using the regular check in desks they are not always. Queues can still develop at these particularly as they can be quite confusing for some passengers who can take many minutes to use them and may require help for a staff member.
My preference and why
Whenever possible I ALWAYS opt to check in online.
The main reason is that I hate queueing for anything, least of all at the airport when I have probably had to get up at some ridiculous hour just to get to the airport in the first place.
Passing through an airport these days is stressful enough with delays and queues to get through airport security, so adding yet another step is something I want to avoid at all costs (even if I did have to pay extra to do it).
If I already have my boarding pass when I arrive at the airport, particularly if I do not need to drop off any checked bags at the baggage drop desk, then I can just walk straight to security. This means I can arrive a little later if needs be and still make the flight.
Check in FAQs
What are the benefits of checking in online?
Checking in online allows you to save time and avoid lines at the airport. It also gives you the flexibility to select your seat, print your boarding pass, and sometimes even check in luggage in advance. This can make your airport experience smoother and less stressful.
Is it mandatory to check in online?
No, it is not mandatory to check in online. However, many airlines encourage passengers to check in online as it can reduce wait times at the airport. Some airlines may even charge a fee for checking in at the airport counter.
Can I check in at the airport even if I didn’t do it online?
Yes, you can still check in at the airport if you haven’t checked in online. However, be prepared to stand in line and possibly miss out on the opportunity to select your seat or check in luggage in advance. If you want to save time, it’s recommended to check in online before your flight.
The Final Verdict
In conclusion, whether to check in online or at the airport depends on your individual needs and preferences.
Checking in online offers convenience and can save you time at the airport, but it also has its drawbacks such as needing to print your boarding pass and not being able to speak with an agent at the airport in case of issues or questions.
On the other hand, checking in at the airport offers more flexibility and the ability to speak with an agent but it can be time-consuming and stressful. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option and make a decision that best suits your needs and preferences.
I have been traveling around the world by air since the early 70s and living overseas too. I worked for British Airways for a number of years and I am also a private pilot. About Me