Do You Need to Go to Check-in Desk if You Have Already Checked In for Your Flight Online?

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Do you need to go to check-in desk if you have checked in online?

Most airlines offer the option of checking in online or through their mobile app, allowing passengers to skip the check-in desk at the airport. However, there are still situations, when it might be necessary for you to go to the check-in desk even if you have already checked in online. Yes, sometimes it is necessary.

In this article, we will explore this question in more detail.

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Printing boarding pass at a self service machine

What Is Check In?

Check-in for a flight is the process of confirming your attendance for a particular flight, as well as verifying that you have all the necessary travel documents. During check-in, it is also required to provide your personal information such as name and passport details. 

1. How to Check In for a Flight?

There are several ways to check-in for a flight.

  • You can do an online check-in through the airline’s website or mobile app,
  • You can use self-service kiosks at the airport,
  • Or you can check-in at a manned counter.

The check-in time usually starts several hours before the scheduled departure time and closes 30 to 60 minutes before the departure, depending on the airline’s policy. It is essential to check the airline’s requirements and policies regarding check-in times and procedures to avoid any delays or issues.

After completing the check-in process for your flight, you get a boarding pass. The boarding pass serves as your ticket to board the plane and contains important information such as your name, flight number, departure time, gate number, and seat assignment.

2. What Is Online Check In?

Online check-in is a process offered by airlines that allows passengers to check in for their flight and obtain their boarding pass through the airline’s website or mobile app, rather than at the airport check-in desk. Online check-in typically opens 24-48 hours before the scheduled departure time of the flight, allowing passengers to check in from the comfort of their own home or office.

During online check-in, passengers enter their flight details, personal information, and any necessary travel documents. They may also have the option to select their seat and indicate any special requests, such as a meal preference or wheelchair assistance.

After completing online check-in, passengers can either print their boarding pass at home or download it to their mobile device. This allows them to skip the check-in desk at the airport and head straight to security, saving time and reducing stress.

Make sure you download your boarding pass before leaving for the airport. You may not have access to reliable internet or mobile data connections, which can prevent them from accessing their electronic boarding passes.

Do you need to check in at the airport if you checked in online? No, but you still might need to go to check in desk to check in your luggage or if you are traveling with pets. Read more below.

However, it’s important to note that online check-in is not available for all flights or all passengers. Some airlines may require passengers to check in at the airport, particularly if they are traveling on a codeshare flight.

View from an airport window
A view from an airport window

Do You Need to Go to Check-in Desk if You Have Already Checked In for Your Flight Online?

In most cases, you don’t have to do that.

If you have already checked in for your flight online or through an app, and you don’t have checked luggage, you will not need to visit the check-in desk. You can simply go straight through the security and then to the boarding gate and present your boarding pass at the gate counter.

However, it is important to note that different airlines have different policies regarding online check-ins so you should always contact the airline before your flight to make sure that you understand their specific requirements. Some airlines may require you to show up at the check-in desk even if you have already done an online check-in.

Situations where you may still need to visit the airport check-in counter:

1. You Need to Drop Off Checked Baggage

If you have baggage that needs to be checked, you will need to visit the baggage drop-off counter at the airport to check it in.

This is because you need to drop off your bags and have them tagged with your destination details. In many cases, you can use the self-service bag drop kiosks, which are located near the check-in desks, to drop off your bags. These kiosks are designed to make the process quick and easy, so you can get on your way as soon as possible.

But not always these kiosks are available.

Many airports just don’t have them. If that’s the case, you will need to stand in a line for a regular check-in desk. Always check if there is a separate bag drop desk; the line there might be shorter.

2. You Are Traveling on a Codeshare Flight

If you are traveling on a codeshare flight, you may need to visit the check-in desk. A codeshare flight is a partnership between two airlines, where one airline sells tickets for a flight operated by another airline. In this case, you may need to check in with the operating airline, which may have different check-in procedures.

Keep in mind that, if it’s a codeshare flight, very often online check in is not possible at all. Or only for a part of your journey. You will need to visit the check-in desk anyway.

3. You Are Traveling With a Pet

If you are traveling with a pet, you may need to visit the check-in desk.

This is because you need to provide the airline with documentation for your pet, such as proof of vaccination and a health certificate. The check-in desk staff will also need to confirm that your pet meets the airline’s requirements for in-cabin or cargo travel.

4. You Need to Make Changes to Your Booking

If you need to make changes to your flight, such as switching to a different flight or upgrading your seat, you may need to visit the check-in counter to make those changes.

5. You Encounter Issues With Your Boarding Pass

If there are issues with your boarding pass, such as a mistake in your name or flight information, you may need to visit the check-in counter to have the issue resolved.

6. Some Airports Might Require You to Have a Printed Boarding Pass

There are airports that require you to have a printed boarding pass.

And by printed boarding pass, they often mean a boarding pass printed by airport staff, not a self-printed boarding pass.

Why is that?

In some cases, the airport’s scanning equipment may not be compatible with mobile devices or may be experiencing technical difficulties, making it difficult or impossible to scan a digital boarding pass.

Some airports and airlines may require a printed boarding pass as an additional security measure to verify a passenger’s identity and prevent fraud or security threats.

This is especially true for international flights, where customs and immigration officials may need to review a printed copy of your boarding pass.

In some airports there is a boarding pass check before the security check, so you will be informed if you need to have a printed boarding pass. If so, you will need to go back to the check in counter and print it. You might need to stand in a long line just to get this piece of paper.

To make your journey simpler, it’s best to determine if you have to print out a boarding pass before arriving at the airport. Or at least before heading for the gate. Thus you can circumvent long lines at check-in counters by being precisely on time for their opening.

In general, check-in counters usually open about 2-3 hours before the scheduled departure time of the flight. However, some airlines may open their counters earlier or later depending on factors such as the number of flights departing from the airport and the airport’s operating hours.

Do you have more questions about the check-in process? Ask in the comments.

Featured photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels


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