Airport counter check-in is the process in which the passenger, upon arrival at the airport, hands over any baggage that they don’t want or are not allowed to carry inside the aircraft's cabin. They are then given a boarding pass before they proceed to board the aircraft. If possible, we recommend using online check-in – it is much more convenient, and you can arrive at the airport later.
After arriving at the airport, you can find information about check-in for your flight on special information boards. The relevant information can also be obtained at an airport information desk, usually located near the bag drop-off area (check-in desks).
You should arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time.
Step by step
- Find the appropriate check-in gate (point) for your flight.
- Have your documents ready – passport (or national ID), online reservation booking number (code), or a paper copy of your ticket (if you have one).
- At the check-in desk, you will be asked to present the documents listed above, and you can hand over checked baggage which will be weighed and then sent to be loaded onto the plane.
- After presenting your documents and checking your baggage, you will receive a boarding pass which enables you to board the plane.
- Once the check-in procedure is completed you should proceed to the appropriate gate, where each passenger undergoes a security check.
- During the security check, passengers must place objects like keys, telephones, belts, electrical equipment, as well as coats, jackets, and scarves in the baskets provided and put them on the conveyer belt.
- After the security check, you can proceed to the appropriate gate, where you will then board the plane. The boarding time is indicated on your boarding pass. At boarding time, airport staff will make an announcement informing passengers they may board the plane.
Self-service check-in at the airport
To avoid queues at check-in gates, you can use self-service check-in machines, which are available at most international airports.
Step by step
- Find a self-service check-in machine – the airport’s webpage should have information about where they are located.
- Supply the machine with details from the ID card you used when buying your ticket as well as the number (code) of your booking confirmation.
- If the machine allows it, you can choose your seat on the plane, or the system will automatically assign you a seat.
- Take the printed boarding pass with you – it is required to board the plane.
At certain airports, self-service check-in is available to passengers traveling with hand baggage only.
The largest airports provide self-service check-in services for checked luggage. In this case, you will receive a special tag or sticker tag to put on your bags. Baggage should be tagged and handed over at the baggage drop-off point.
Self-service check-in at the airport is free of charge.
Economy class check-in
Passengers of regular airlines who have purchased a flight in economy class can choose from a number of check-in methods:
- check-in at the airport
- self-service check-in at the airport
- online check-in
- telephone check-in (via voice connection or data transfer)
Not all airlines offer a telephone check-in option (however, Polish Airlines LOT have such an option available in their offer as a voice connection). Obviously the most accessible is online check-in, where passengers can avoid potential queues at the airport check-in and freely proceed to the security check after dropping their baggage off at the assigned baggage drop-off point. Passengers are reminded that they still need to go through the security check.
First class check-in
For passengers who have purchased seats in first class (and in business class on certain airlines as well), regular airlines provide special baggage drop-off points. This convenience allows first-class passengers to enjoy fast and hassle-free formalities at the airport. First-class check-in points are clearly marked, as are additional fast security checkpoints.
Passengers traveling first class can, of course, use online, self-service or telephone check-in. British Airways, for example, offer smartphone check-in via data transfer – the passenger obtains a barcode from the boarding pass and can print it using a portable printer. This kind of option is not available with all airlines, but it is gaining in popularity.