Spirit introduces self-service bag check at New York LaGuardia
You may have to deal with fewer people during the check-in process the next time you fly Spirit Airlines from New York's LaGuardia Airport.
On Tuesday, the ultra-low cost carrier started offering passengers departing from LGA the choice of tagging their own checked baggage and personally dropping it on the conveyor.
The airline touted the self-service bag drop as making the check-in process more efficient and shortening the amount of time passengers have to spend in line to see a customer-service agent.
"Historically our queues have been heavy," Mike Byrom, Spirit's vice president of airport services told TPG at a media event about the new machines. "This is our investment to expedite that."
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Spirit's self-service bag check at LaGuardia happens in two steps. First, customers weigh their luggage at a kiosk, which then prints out a tag for them to affix.
Then, after a quick manual check of their boarding passes and IDs, passengers go to another machine to get their bag scanned and brought into the checked luggage system. They can also pay any overweight fees directly through the machines.
Spirit already has self-service bag check in Las Vegas, in partnership with the airport. But the system there uses hardware and software from another supplier, so passengers self-checking bags at LAS still must see an agent in order to pay any fees.
LaGuardia is the first airport where Spirit is deploying self-check bag machines solely through its own investments.
Employees remain available at LGA to assist any passengers who have difficulties tagging or scanning their bags properly.
Airline officials emphasized that no employees in New York would lose their jobs as a result of the machines.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, the airline will install the machines at some of its other highest-traffic bases, with Spirit officials mentioning Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Detroit and Fort Lauderdale as other airports that could get self-service bag drop. As the machines become more common, the airline will determine which smaller stations should get the technology.
Overall, passengers seemed pleased with the new process, and airline executives said it already seems to be moving things along more efficiently at the airport. One passenger gave a thumbs up and said he thought the self-bag check was good.
Not everyone had such a positive view, though. Another passenger said she didn't like having to check her own bag, implying that it's a service the airline should still provide for its customers. But, as Spirit officials pointed out, a traditional full-service bag check counter will remain in operation at LGA, too.
All photos by Zach Wichter/The Points Guy.