Airline Flights: Advantages of Early Check-in

This week, I was called upon to help a co-worker with a travel problem.  He had been assigned to fly to Dallas, TX for some on-site training, so he had airline flight reservations out of our local airport with a stop in Los Angeles and then on to Dallas.  The problem I had to help with was the result of him being bumped from the flight because the first flight in his itinerary was oversold.

I have never been able to understand why airlines are allowed to sell more reservations than they have seats for on a flight.  I understand what they say is their reason.  They figure that someone is going to fail to show up and this way they will always have a full plane.  Well, I’ve been on plenty of flights that have not been completely full.  It also seems to me that when you make a flight reservation, you have to pay for it.  So, if all of the seats are reserved and paid for, what does it matter if someone doesn’t show up to use a non-refundable ticket?

Now, I realize that someone who misses a flight can probably pay a change fee to use their ticket to take a later flight.  But I always thought that’s where stand-by passengers came in.  They are the ones who could not book the flight because it was full, but they wait at the gate, hoping that someone on the flight will be a no-show.  Either way, the airline is making money on each reserved seat.

My co-worker’s problem with his flight occurred because he was on the late side getting to the airport.  By the time he got to the airport to check in, the flight had been filled with passengers who were there ahead of him and he was left high and dry.  His trip had to be changed so that his first flight would go out of an airport 30 miles farther south.  This meant that he needed someone to give him a ride between the 2 airports, which is where I came in.

During our drive, we discussed travel in general and he admitted that he probably should have gotten to the airport a little sooner.  I explained that when I travel by airlines, I prefer to get a confirmed seat assignment when I make the reservation.  I also talked about checking in for the flight on the Internet the day before departure.  My friend looked at me and asked if it was really possible to check in before you got to the airport.  I was a little surprised that he didn’t know about checking in on the Internet.  I take it for granted because I do it all the time.  It occurred to me that maybe there are people who don’t know that you can check in online before you head to the airport.

So, if you have an airline reservation and have never checked in online, you might want to give it a try.  By checking in early, you will reserve your seat as a person who will be on the flight.  You should also remember that, just because you’ve checked in early, don’t use that as an excuse to get to the airport late.  I have never been bumped from a flight because I’m always one of the first passengers at the departure gate.  By using early check-in and arriving at the airport with time to spare, you stand the best chance of a hassle-free flight.

One thought on “Airline Flights: Advantages of Early Check-in

  1. It is my worst fear being late to the airport for this very reason, I get there super early every time. But, better be 1 hour early than 5 minutes late!

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