Self-drop baggage options are finally coming to the United States. Travelers have been enjoying this do-it-yourself method of checking bags for a while in airports throughout Asia, Canada and Europe. However, safety concerns have kept airports in America from rolling out the option. That’s all changing. A number of airports are running trials for self-drop baggage. What’s more, one of the nation’s major airports just placed a huge order for self-drop equipment.
Denver International Airport (DEN) just placed an order for 176 self-drop baggage machines. The machines are being produced by a company out of Germany called Materna. The order that’s in the works is actually the largest of its kind in the world so far. What does that mean for travelers who fly out of Denver in the future? The plan is to equip every bag-drop spot within the airport with a self-check option by some point in 2020. That means that we’re less than two years away from catching up with some airports in Europe, Canada and Asia. Close to 45 percent of the airlines in the world already offer unassisted bag-drop options.
Delta Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines are all running trials for self-check baggage at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Alaska Airlines has tested the method in Los Angeles. American is working with Miami International Airport on a trial for self-check baggage. Even JetBlue is getting in on the trend. The budget carrier plans to begin testing self-drop baggage options at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport beginning in January. Biometric technology will be used to check the identities of travelers against what’s in the database of Customs and Border Protection.
How are airports in other countries keeping a focus on safety while still offering unassisted baggage options? There are still security processes in place. The identities of passengers are often verified by agents as they pass through the lines that lead to baggage-drop machines. However, agents aren’t needed for the actual bag-check process. Passengers can weigh their own bags, scan baggage tags, scan boarding passes and drop bags to be transported to their flights. Many airports actually feature machines that are capable of accepting payments for baggage-related fees. All of the airports that are running trials in the Untied States must have TSA agents standing by. That’s because current TSA rules actually require agents to manually verify that the person checking a bag is who they claim to be. The reality is that a fully successful bag-drop program can only happen throughout the country if the TSA loosens some of its restrictions.