Online check-in is not putting an end to queuing at UK airports, reveals a huge survey by Which? magazine.
Which? asked over 11,500 passengers about their airport experiences. The results found that queues at bag-drop can often cancel out any benefits of using online check-in.
The survey found very little time difference between using a traditional check-in desk and using a bag drop after online or kiosk check-in.
A third of the passengers listed airport queues as one of the most frustrating aspects of air travel.
The size of the survey is much larger than the annual SITA Passenger Self-Service Survey, which is regarded as the best source for self-service statistics.
In 2012 they interviewed 2,526 passengers at six airports. Which? surveyed 11, 537 passengers using 35 UK airports.
London Stansted (STN) was the slowest, with the longest waits for check-in and bag drop.
London Southend (SEN) – which also had the highest customer satisfaction score – also performed best for bag-drop times.
The average waiting time for bag drop at Southend was 8 minutes – half the 16 minutes that passengers would wait, on average, to drop off a bag at Stansted.
The average waiting times for major UK and Irish carriers showed almost no difference between desk check-in and bag drop.
The biggest difference was with Thomas Cook (MT), where the bag drop wait of 12 minutes was 7 minutes shorter than for check-in. The difference was negligible for other airlines.
Generally a higher proportion of people were dealt with in less than 15 minutes if they used bag drop rather than check-in, but the differences were usually small.
Online check-in v desk check-in
The survey clearly showed the preference for online check-in. Two thirds used online check-in while one third used desk check-in.
8 out of 10 passengers had hold baggage, regardless of how they checked-in.
The largest group of passengers used online check-in and had hold baggage. Nearly half of all passengers were in this group.
The second largest group were passengers who used desk check-in and had hold baggage.