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How Does Online Check In Work?

Computer Check In

Dear EssentialTravel.co.uk,
When buying my latest air ticket, I noticed there was an Online Check-in options. I've heard this term being thrown around of late and feel a bit intimidated by it. How does one going about checking-in online, and is it safe? Cheri Peterson, Victoria Park

Our Answer

Hi Cheri, that's a big question on a lot of minds right now. Online check-in is becoming so much more prominent of late. While using the Internet for something official, like checking-in for a flight, might seem daunting at first, the process is really quite simple and safe - if done through an official airline.

Each airline works differently, but generally online check-ins work in three stages:

Step 1: When Buying Tickets

When buying your ticket (either online or through a travel agent), select the option that allows you to perform an online check-in. There will be a process where you 'create and account' with the airline, which normally involves logging in using your e-mail address and entering a password of your choice. Keep these details hands, because you will need them when it is time to check in.

Check the time frame you have been given for check-in: Sometimes you can check in from between a few weeks before your day of departure to a few hours before.

Step 2: Checking In Online

Log on to your airline's website.

You will then be asked to fill in your flight and passport information - for all passengers on your booking. Once you have done this, you should be able to print your boarding pass or passes. It is very important that you keep these safe. Make a copy and put it somewhere safe if you want to be 110% sure of yourself.

Step 3: Getting To The Airport

When you arrive at the airport, you can head straight to security and go on holiday - if you have no luggage to check into the hold.

If you have baggage to check-in, you need to head to your airline's counter, as if you were checking in normally. Some airlines will have a separate line for online check-in customers, but this isn't always the case.

And that is about all there is to know. For passengers with no luggage to put in the hold, it works out really well as a time saver.

Last Updated: March 2011