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Checking a bag with United? Use the new 'bag drop shortcut' to save time

March 03, 2022
3 min read
Checking a bag with United? Use the new 'bag drop shortcut' to save time
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United Airlines has a new way to streamline the travel experience for those checking bags.

The Chicago-based carrier is in the midst of rolling out new "Bag Drop Shortcut" check-in lanes, which are designed to be used exclusively by those who've already checked in on the mobile app and pre-paid for their bags.

If you've already added the bags during mobile check-in, you can approach the "Bag Drop Shortcut" lane and place your bag directly on the scale. You'll then scan your boarding pass and a check-in agent will then check your ID and apply your bag tag.

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If you're eligible for Premier Access, your bags will even receive the appropriate orange priority label. This area can also support overweight and oversized bags, such as golf clubs or skis.

You won't need to press any buttons on a kiosk, nor present your credit card. Within minutes, you'll be on your way and your checked bag will begin its journey to the plane's belly.

United first piloted these new check-in lanes in its Newark (EWR) hub in August 2021, and it doubled the size of the "Bag Drop Shortcut" there just weeks later. Now, you'll find the dedicated lanes at the west end of Level 3 in Terminal C.

The airline has since opened these counters at its six other domestic hubs, and it's now planning to expand the service to many outstations later this year, with more details about the rollout plan coming in the next few weeks.

During the pilot phase, United said that the new counters have "significantly increased the airline’s customer satisfaction scores." It appears that the response has indeed been overwhelmingly positive, with one commenter on the FlyerTalk forum mentioning that "I have used it a few times and it’s incredibly fast."

Of course, United touting the "Bag Drop Shortcut" as an innovation is up for debate.

If it indeed saves time, then it's worth using on future trips when you're checking bags.

Plus, it's possible that it could also free up agent availability at full-service counters and kiosks, which will still remain available for those who need more help during check in.

However, it's not necessarily as cutting edge as the self-bag drops that have been popping up at airports nationwide with United's competitors.

In fact, Delta late last year unveiled a new check-in lobby in Atlanta (ATL) and Detroit (DTW) that's exclusively open to some TSA Precheck passengers who opt in to the program.

With a quick look at a screen, passengers can be verified using facial recognition and automatically have a kiosk print out a tag for them to add to the suitcase before putting it on the belt — without the need for any manual agent intervention or ID checks.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
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Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases