Alaska Airlines introducing bagtag print kiosks and biometric self bag drops

Ditching self-service check-in kiosks

Alaska Airlines is doing away with self-service check-in kiosks.

They are instead introducing bag tag print stations and eventually biometric self bag drops at hubs.

The new systems follow trials by Alaska Airlines of several new technologies at San Jose in 2022.

Alaska trialled the tag printing system at San Jose last year [Image: Alaska Airlines]

The plan is to get passengers through the check-in lobby and to the security line in under 5 minutes.

The quickest way to cut time in the lobby is just to remove some parts of the process and get passengers to do those things before they get to the airport.

So out goes self-service check-in and boarding pass printing at the airport.

Passengers will be encouraged to check-in online and either print the boarding pass or get it on their mobile before heading for the airport.

Qantas started a similar scheme last year at Australian airports.

Self print bag tag

Self printing a bag tag is not new.

Since 2012, Alaska passengers have been able to self print tags at self-service check-in kiosks.

But now the check-in area will be just for baggage stuff. No check-in at all at kiosks. Just bag tags.

New bag tag stations – Apple iPads with a printer and card reader attached – are replacing the self-service check-in kiosks.

The bag tag print stations will just print tags – and take your money [Image: Alaska Airlines]

How it works

  • Passengers scan their boarding pass to bring up their details.
  • They use the bag tag print stations to pay for bags and print the tags.
  • Then they attach the tags and take the bags to a bag drop.
For now, a person scans the bag tags and lifts the bags onto the baggage belt. {Image: Alaska Airlines}

Some of Alaska’s airports have begun changing to the new tablets, including:

  • Boise, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Missoula and Portland

Most airports will transition to the new bag tag stations by the end of 2023.

Alaska released a video showing the new process [Video: Alaska Airlines]

Biometric self bag drops in 2024

Beginning in spring 2024, Alaska is introducing biometric self bag drops at its main hubs – Anchorage, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle.

Passengers will still print their bag tags at the bag tag station. Then they go to an actual self bag drop – no staff lifting bags here.

Alaska trialled self bag drops at San Jose last year {Image: Alaska Airlines}

The camera in the bag drop captures the passenger biometrics and compares them with their government-issued I.D.

The bag drop kiosk scans the bag tag and, if all is ok, puts the bag straight into the baggage system.

The airline doesn’t mention biometrics, they just say the technology ‘will allow you to drop your bags off with just a few quick scans’.

Electronic bag tag

Alaska Airlines electronic bag tag

In December 2022, Alaska announced it was introducing electronic bag tags in autumn 2023. Passengers have to buy the reusable tags – still no price announced.

Alaska doesn’t mention them in this latest news, but they should work with the self bag drops.

Customer service agents still there – but will be slow

Alaska says that customer service agents will always be available.

They don’t say exactly what will happen to those passengers but they say the transformation (to the new system) ‘gives you the choice between getting through the lobby quickly or receiving personalized help.

Alaska home printed bag tag

Alaska introduced a service in 2014 where passengers could print their bagtags at home on plain paper just like they do with boarding passes.

They folded the paper and put it in a special plastic folder and attached that to the bag.

Take up was very low and the airline scrapped the home printed tags in September 2022.

Biometrics and self bag drops

Biometrics and self bag drop have been in use around the world for some time.

Many U.S. airports use biometrics for self-boarding and getting a jump on the security lines.

The TSA uses biometrics for arriving passengers.

Many airlines and airports have been using self bag drop for many years.

The biometrics section on has a range of stories covering all these areas.

Internet links

Alaska Airlines (AS)