Too many United Kiosks?

Old Aug 18, 16, 7:00 pm
  #1  
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Too many United Kiosks?

I’m probably not the first person to complain about this, but there is one thing about United Airlines that really gets under my nerve.

If I go to the American Airlines Priorty check in at LGA, I go to a sectioned off area and am greeted by two agents at podiums.

If I go to the Delta Sky Priority Lane at JFK, I go to a really private area, with bottled waters and mints, and am greeted by four or five agents all wanting to help me.

When I go to the United Premier Access Check-In at EWR, I go to a separate level (nice) and there is an actual person the has to grant me access into the check in area, but it goes all downhill from there. Instead of seeing 7 employees wanting to help me, I see 20 kiosks, and six United Employees. The moment I head towards an employee, he or she tries to act busy (which irks me) and when I say “Hello”, he or she says “Please start with the kiosk”. Or, he or she will come around from the back to do the kiosk for me. And then he or she will quickly move to another kiosk stand to tag someones bag and come back.

Not only does this not say “Premier,” it’s ugly for economy.

And this is not exclusive to EWR, it’s like that at 85% of US airports for United.

If it weren’t for longer lines, I would much rather go downstairs to Additional Services and check in where they have those new gate podiums with the flexible monitors.

Anyway, I have a few problems with checking in at a kiosk:

1) I like cardstock boarding passes, which are only available through the agent or a PMUA kiosk (none at EWR)

2) I don’t like having my information being displayed on a 16 inch screen in front of everyone else. It would take nothing for someone to snap a photo of the conf # and change my itinerary. Same reason why I don’t like ATM’s.


So, the question is, how can I convince the agent at the Premier counter that I want to check-in the old fashioned way?
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Old Aug 18, 16, 8:46 pm
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At my home airport of CVG, I'd say an agent is eager to help me before I even get to the kiosk about 70% of the time. Two or three years ago, I used to constantly get the 'use a kiosk first' from an agent, even when I told them I knew it wouldn't work. Now I barely need to use them at all.

B6 on the other hand, I understand to be betting a ton on the kiosk - just read an article where they basically talk about how JFK is all kiosks now, with the agents just kind of roaming but no proper check in desks (note: I don't fly B6 nor have I been too their JfK terminal recently, so can't comment from a personal perspective). And that they want to do this to FLL, BOS, and other focus cities.
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Old Aug 18, 16, 8:50 pm
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SFO and DEN 1K check in area, no kiosks. If there is a line an agents informs you that you can us one of the adjacent kiosks if you don't need agent help to speed things up. Works great. And in both places there was an agent to apply the bag tag to my luggage even before I finished with the kiosk.

Last edited by Baze; Aug 18, 16 at 9:18 pm
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Old Aug 18, 16, 9:07 pm
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Its really a CO thing, they were one of the first major adopters of the kiosks and literally would punish agents for dealing with customers.

I never had that issue with UA.
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Old Aug 18, 16, 10:07 pm
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Originally Posted by entropy View Post
I never had that issue with UA.
Not IME. Not always, but there were definitely times PMUA pushed me to use the kiosks. My favorites were when they insisted I use the kiosk to check in for a trip to Canada, even though the kiosks at that location didn't have passport readers at the time.

I loved flying PMUA, but they also had there share of other check in fails. I'm not sure if they still do this, as I haven't been based out of ORD for about 8 years now, but for a while, the Premier desks at ORD only had Airserv contractors behind them. And all they would do is verify ID and stick bag tags on - they wouldn't (or couldn't) even tell you if the flight was full or change seats. For that stuff, or anything else, you had to go to a counter to the right, where there were 1 or 2 actual UA agents who could do what one needed.
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Old Aug 18, 16, 10:14 pm
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Had similar issue at MCI, was in the premier access lane and the agent told me to use the kiosk. Guess what, didn't work and she had to do it herself anyways.

At LAX OTOH, have no Kiosks at Premier Checkin.
DSC06390 by B H, on Flickr
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Old Aug 18, 16, 10:14 pm
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Originally Posted by NikoGoutakolis View Post
Instead of seeing 7 employees wanting to help me, I see 20 kiosks, and six United Employees. The moment I head towards an employee, he or she tries to act busy (which irks me) and when I say “Hello”, he or she says “Please start with the kiosk”. Or, he or she will come around from the back to do the kiosk for me. And then he or she will quickly move to another kiosk stand to tag someones bag and come back.
r
I can not imagine something that would annoy me more about checkin than if they reduced the number of kiosks and forced me to wait in some long line to talk to an agent.
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Old Aug 18, 16, 10:15 pm
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Originally Posted by entropy View Post
I never had that issue with UA.
I have my share of CO grumbles, but this definitely was a PMUA issue too. At JFK checking for a p.s. C flight one time the agent really wanted me to use the kiosk, but ultimately relented, explaining that they were measured by station and by shift on their self-serve percentage. So by being friendly and helpful and having human interaction with me she was actively hurting one of the metrics they were being judged by.
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Old Aug 18, 16, 10:57 pm
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Originally Posted by txaggiemiles View Post
I can not imagine something that would annoy me more about checkin than if they reduced the number of kiosks and forced me to wait in some long line to talk to an agent.
+1
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Old Aug 18, 16, 11:51 pm
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I find SEA rather funny: as soon as I walk up to the (Gold) checkin kiosks, I'll have 1-2 agents swoop down on me. Things then get awkward since I have to play around with a kiosk while we're chatting, eventually the tag comes out and they can tag my bag. The agents are certainly great, but the setup is weird.

SFO at least has the proper desks for 1k/plat: as a gold I occasionally get waved over to there, but most of the time at most airports I use a kiosk by myself, and flag one of the agents to do the tag/id-check/bag dumping. This also works well, I guess it's just SEA where they have too many agents / too few passengers for things to not feel silly.

The only time I've seen this not work so well was MCO with plenty of waiting, mainly because a significant proportion of passengers had overpacked, or had trouble with the kiosk (one very irritated passenger behind me spent plenty of time loudly fuming about the "idiocy" of those people over the phone, DYKWIA if I ever saw one). I was mainly surprised by what seemed to be inexperienced passengers in the premier lane, but maybe they'd gotten the signs mixed up...
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Old Aug 18, 16, 11:55 pm
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How quickly have we forgotten the "Chicken." That was the term used on this very board for PMUA's self-service kiosks. IIRC, they have been in use since before 9-11, and PMUA definitely pushed people to use it. (Didn't they offer bonus RDMs for using "EasyCheckin"TM for some time? They certainly did that with OLCI.)

Anyway, perhaps UA has trained me well to use the kiosk, but now that I fly AA more out of LAX, I get routinely frustrated because AA has like 2 or 3 kiosks on the premium side of T4 for pax who check luggage. Waiting for an agent can take 5-10 minutes, which is basically an eternity, so I often walk back to the general side of T4, where most of the kiosks are located. More kiosks, not less, is better.
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Old Aug 19, 16, 2:23 am
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Originally Posted by Baze View Post
SFO and DEN 1K check in area, no kiosks.
That's only because SFO tried the "all kiosks" idea (back before the latest re-shuffle of the checkin areas when the final part of the new wing opened) and got extensive negative feedback about it. So they changed it.
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Old Aug 19, 16, 2:40 am
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As a long time GS, I feel kiosk is great for domestic travel when I fly out of DCA, FLL, MIA, and other non-hubs. Simple and quick and I am on my way.

For international travel, a human agent will be nice when there are problems with passport and visa scanning functions and multiple airlines are involved. Luckily, GS agents have been wonderful at SFO, IAD, EWR and ORD where I fly out most for international destinations.
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Old Aug 19, 16, 3:30 am
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Originally Posted by UA_Flyer View Post
As a long time GS, I feel kiosk is great for domestic travel when I fly out of DCA, FLL, MIA, and other non-hubs. Simple and quick and I am on my way.

For international travel, a human agent will be nice when there are problems with passport and visa scanning functions and multiple airlines are involved. Luckily, GS agents have been wonderful at SFO, IAD, EWR and ORD where I fly out most for international destinations.
Not a GS, never will be, but agree 100%! For domestic, the kiosks are great. 99 out of 100 times, I don't need anything else. Heck, I can't remember anything domestic where I needed any more checkin help than a bag drop.

For international, except for the really simple cases, it's good to have staff nearby if/when checkin goes awry. That's where the complex happens.
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Old Aug 19, 16, 5:40 am
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oh your god iah you'll find dozens of kiosks and gaggles of agents hanging out.

every time i'll need help due to passport issues and every time i have to find an agent and interrupt the conversation they're having with their colleagues in order to get their override.

i don't mind starting off with a kiosk but i hate how time and time again at iah i have to physically find someone. in all honesty i cannot blame the agents, they're so disengaged and bored that i'd do the same thing. but at the same time if i were in their shoes i'd have my conversations facing the kiosks so i can see mid-conversation if someone needs help.
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