We often write about the best ways to eliminate or at least shorten your wait at the airport. Here are some things you can to do make your airport experience less stressful:
- Sign up with TSA PreCheck
- Register with CLEAR
- Use mobile order to get your Starbucks
- Get lounge access
That leaves the airline check-in and luggage drop as the only line you can’t bypass by paying extra or registering in advance. Or is it?
When we were checking in for a Delta flight at JFK, there was a huge line in the terminal. We arrived in plenty of time so we went to the back of the line to wait. That’s when a Delta Red Coat came to us and said if we wanted we could use the Skycap service outside to skip the line. We said, “Thanks but no thanks, we’ll stay here.”
Looking back, I don’t know why my reaction to using the curbside check-in service was so negative. When my family first started to fly instead of taking road trips, we always used the Skycap service. For a few dollars, the friendly agent met you at your car, took your bags, provided boarding passes and all you had to do was walk to the gate.
Skycaps are a throwback to railway porters and the services they provided passengers.
The skycap is the descendant of the redcap, a railway porter. Redcaps were named for their distinctive red hats, which helped them stand out in a crowd so that railway passengers could easily identify them. When commercial airlines became viable, many airlines provided skycap service because people were accustomed to getting assistance from railway porters, and the term “skycap” was coined to describe porters who worked in airports.
It’s a new age and people no longer expect to have someone take their bags from the car trunk. In fact, we’ve been trained to be self-sufficient. We’re supposed to check in and tag our own bags with no help. Why should we need assistance?
That doesn’t mean that airlines have done away with curbside check-in. All of these airlines mention the service on their website:
I can’t explain why I’m so hesitant to use curbside check-in. I partially think it’s because I irrationally feel there’s a greater chance for my bag to not to make it onto the flight if I check in curbside instead of taking it to the counter and checking it myself. Another reason is that we’ve occasionally encountered overly-aggressive Skycaps who were borderline harassing us to give them our bag instead of taking it inside.
However, when I think about it, I’m actively avoiding a service that will save me time. Instead of standing in line to hand my bag to an airline agent that I tagged at a kiosk (where I had to answer a bunch of questions about upgrades), I could pay a few dollars per bag and be on my way in a few minutes.
For those of you who still check a bag (and we’re still #teamcheckedbag), do you use curbside check-in?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary