United Introduces New Bag Drop “Shortcut”

The airline says the new process should allow travelers to check their bag “in a minute or less on average.”

United Introduces New Bag Drop “Shortcut”

We’re all for anything that can help speed things up.

Courtesy of United Airlines

Have you ever wondered what the benefit actually is of “checking in” to your flight online 24 hours in advance, when after you arrive at the airport you still have to wait in a long line to basically re-enter your flight information at a check-in kiosk and then stand in another line to drop off your bags?

Well, United Airlines is attempting to address the issue with a new “bag drop shortcut” procedure that the airline claims will allow travelers to “skip the line [and] check their bag in a minute or less on average.”

According to recent customer surveys, United found that the bag check process is actually one of the more stressful and time-consuming aspects of the air travel experience for fliers.

Enter: the shortcut.

This new service is currently available for United departures out of Chicago, Newark (New Jersey), Washington, D.C., Houston, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

In order to take advantage of the new, (ideally) quicker bag drop option, United travelers need to check in on the United app and then select and pay for the number of bags they will be checking. At the airport, they will then proceed to the “bag drop shortcut” location, which is labeled as such, where customers place their bag on the scale and scan their boarding pass. United staff will then check the customer’s identification and apply the bag tag.

After trying United’s “bag drop shortcut” this past weekend, however, AFAR’s digital content director Laura Dannen Redman noted that the airline needs to work out some kinks. “I still needed a United rep to process the bags and they didn’t have enough [reps on hand], so we had to wait in a line,” Redman said about her experience using the service at Denver International Airport.

Nevertheless, United reported that “initial customer data proves” that the process “saves our customers time and energy . . . by creating a dedicated area for those who only need to drop their bags.”

United first tested the new bag drop procedure at Newark Liberty International Airport in August 2021. The carrier said that its popularity with customers prompted it to rapidly expand the service to seven United hubs, and it plans to bring it to dozens more airports this year.

The news comes as the airline prepares for an uptick in air travel over spring break. As more travelers head into the skies and as travel continues to rebound, United isn’t the only carrier looking at ways to streamline the baggage process.

Last month, Delta Air Lines launched a trial carry-on program on select flights from Boston, Orlando and Tampa, during which some Delta customers will be asked whether they want to check their carry-on bag for free, Delta told AFAR.

According to the company, Delta is hoping to “better understand how fewer carry-on bags can positively impact the customer experience—from arriving at the airport through boarding the aircraft.”

Anything the airlines want to do to try to make things quicker and easier for travelers, we are here for it.

>> Next: Why Would Anyone Want to Check Their Bag?

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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