AirAsia has announced plans to charge customers a fee to use a staffed check-in counter, for flights booked from September 21.
The 10 ringitt (£2.20/US$3.30) surcharge will apply to customers checking in manually on all AirAsia flights.
AirAsia’s low-cost long-haul sister carrier, AirAsia X will also impose the fee, except at airports in Tokyo (Haneda) & Osaka (Kansai) in Japan, Seoul (Incheon) in Korea and Tehran (Imam Khomeini) in Iran.
AirAsia said the move was designed to encourage customers to check-in online and offset rising fuel costs.
Customers can still check-in online and at self-service counters for free.
The decline of the check-in kiosk
Web check-in – which is widely offered by airlines – has cut long lines at the airport and led to a gradual decline in the traditional, staffed check-in desk as we know it.
The check-in process has become a stable source of income for Europe’s largest budget airline, Ryanair, which has phased out check-in desks at airports, and requires customers to check in online for a €6 fee, per person per one-way flight.
The carrier has caused controversy by requiring customers to print out their own boarding passes, or pay a £40 (€40) ‘re-issue fee’ if they arrive at the airport without one. Ryanair says the measures pass the savings on to passengers in the form of lower fares.
Other major airlines are dispensing with the passenger’s need to check in altogether on certain flights – instead completing the process automatically at the time of booking.
Air France customers who book direct economy flights within Europe or between Europe and Africa via the airline’s website can skip the check-in process altogether, and opt for a boarding pass to be sent via email or SMS 30 hours before departure.
Air New Zealand allows domestic passengers in New Zealand to skip check-in, as seating allocation and boarding passes are issued at the booking stage.
And Continental passengers are automatically checked in on return flights, with boarding passes e-mailed, faxed or sent to the passenger’s mobile phone 24-hours before departure.