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Answers to All Your Questions About Contactless Check-in

Written by Dave Odegard

This blog post was updated on November 22, 2021.

If you’re an avid reader of travel writing and online travel content, you’ve probably been seeing a new term on travel blogs and social media posts by travel influencers: contactless check-in.

The term has been popping up everywhere related to travel and is steadily becoming a new industry standard. But many travelers are still in the dark about contactless check-in and how it fits into their travel plans. Thankfully, we’ve put together a helpful breakdown, answering the essential questions to help you fully understand the concept.

What Is Contactless Check-In?

Contactless check-in is a way of checking in at hotels, airports, and other places when you’re traveling that uses little to no possible contact to prevent the spread of any potential illnesses. It utilizes automated and self-check-in technology, via customer smartphones or touchscreen kiosks, so the physical contact between staff and customers is limited.

Why Is It Important?

Contactless check-in is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that the travel industry has adopted to help travelers stay healthy and keep the travel experience as hygienic as possible. As the pandemic continues in various places around the world, it’s likely to become an industry standard.

Where Can I Use Contactless Check-In?

In theory, contactless check-in can be used anywhere you need to check-in while traveling. Airports and hotels are the most likely places you’ll find the option, but it can also be available to access a lounge, pick up a rental car, or take a shuttle bus. The critical aspect is that the business or accommodation requires a reservation or registration.

How Can I Tell If Contactless Check-In Is an Option?

When it comes to staying safe and healthy while traveling, being prepared is the most critical part. It’s just as true in terms of contactless check-in. You’ll need to look up your airline, car rental agency, or hotel’s procedures to see if it’s something they’re offering. Most of the time, you can find out by going to their website, but if you’re still not sure you can always call their customer service phone number and ask up.

Can You Do Contactless Check-In on Your own?

Yes. While a business or company might not use the phrase “contactless check-in,” they still might have it as an option via their already existing digital concierge features or customer service preferences initially designed for quick or automated check-in. So, again, it’s important to check with whatever airlines, hotels, or other accommodations you’re using before your trip.

RELATED: Essential Tips for Safely Enjoying Theme Parks in 2020

Do I Need to Download Any App for Contactless Check-In?

More than likely. Most contactless check-ins are done via smartphone apps. And there’s no one overall app, but rather it’s managed through the specific app for each airline, hotel chain, or other travel brands. So you’ll likely have to download more than one app and create accounts before you leave home.

Should I Bring Anything Else with Me?

Probably. Every reservation can require different things depending on the booking, and they can vary from company to company. Some may just need your reservation number. Others may require photo ID. It’s crucial to find out ahead of time and what identification or other information you may need to have with you and make sure you have digital copies on your phone.

You should also pack gloves, hand sanitizer, and face masks for protection between contactless check-ins. And maybe think about getting a power bank, or at least keeping a charger handy, so you can make sure your phone has power.

How Do I Check-In without Contact at an Airport?

If you’ve done the research as soon as you book flight deals, you’ll know not only your airline’s contactless check-in procedures, but if any of the airports you’re traveling through are taking extra steps, like temperature screenings with touchless devices.

Most airlines now offer online check-in starting 24 hours before departure through their website or app, and you can print the boarding pass at home or download it to your phone. And that’s their primary method of contactless check-in. Although some situations may force you to check-in in-person like if you’re flying in a large group, require a wheelchair, or flying internationally without your passport information on file with the airline (which you can usually upload ahead of time on their website).

What About My Luggage?

Most airlines now utilize self-service check-in for luggage. You’ll just need to find an available kiosk, where you can scan your boarding pass or enter in your info, register your bags, and pay any applicable fees. It’ll print luggage tags for you to attach to your bags, and then you drop your luggage off a designated collection point. Be sure you have your gloves and hand sanitizer when you’re using the kiosk!

How Do I Check-In without Contact at a Hotel?

Every hotel and hotel chain does things differently. If you want to ensure a contactless check-in wherever you’ll be staying, you’ll need to look up the protocols and procedures for each option and do some comparing and contrasting. If the hotel offers contactless check-in, it will likely use an app to keep things contact-free. Some hotel chain apps handle everything from room service to room keys. But just because a hotel also uses a mobile app for online check-in or check-out doesn’t mean it’ll be contactless. If you can’t find any information about contactless check-in on their website, you should call them.

Anything Else?

Please remember to be patient and understanding. While your health is important to you, it’s just as important to hotel, airport, and airline employees. Contactless check-in is something new, and everyone is still adjusting. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but also try to be kind.

About the author

Dave Odegard

Dave Odegard is an ex-army brat turned internet word person, whose work has been published on Maxim Online, USAToday, Buzzfeed, and more. He is currently the Senior Content Writer at Fareportal (CheapOair's parent company) and spends his free time exploring the wilds of Brooklyn, New Jersey, and Sweden.

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