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As we reported last October, Delta has been testing an “Early Valet” service at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s (ATL) Concourse T. As far as we could tell, it involved gate agents working a specific flight to look around the gate area for passengers with carry-on bags, asking them if they were interested in having their carry-on bags pre-loaded, and taking it from there.

Although not the most scientific means of testing a service, it must have worked; starting this summer, Delta Air Lines will be rolling out the Early Valet specifically for flights that tend to be popular with the vacationing set. (They’re assuming flyers on business routes know the drill.) Right now, the airports that are trying this out include Atlanta (ATL), New York (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Detroit (DTW), Minneapolis (MLP), Salt Lake City (SLC) and Seattle (SEA).

Please take these people's bags from them, Delta. Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-2288891p1.html?cr=00&pl=edit-00">Shutterstock</a>.
Please take these people’s bags from them, Delta. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Delta used to try to gate-check many bags, but most flyers are reluctant to give up carry-ons to be picked up at baggage claim. Early Valet could reduce resistance from passengers, since they’d be assured of having their bags on the plane.

This is not just tinkering. Some real money might be saved at a time when airlines are trying everything they can to maximize profits. According to a report from Northern Illinois University that’s been widely cited in connection with this story, every minute that a plane stands idle at the gate costs an airline $30. And when 25% of US flights run at least 15 minutes late, it’s not only idling that affects the bottom line. Delays, missed connections and general passenger grumpiness cost millions each year.

Of course, once passengers board they’ll likely still take the time to check that the bags are indeed where they should be, and they’ll probably rearrange them, and then some passengers will have to go into their carry-on bags 14 times before the plane takes off to get the things they want under the seat or in the pouch in front of them. So time will tell whether this service actually ends up saving Delta money.

H/T: Seattle Times

What do you think of Delta’s Early Valet service?

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