Everything you need to know about online check-in

When I was flying to Sofia, I got to the airport 2 hours early, only to find a staggering lineup at the check-in counter, which ended up taking me more than an hour to clear. You know what I should’ve done? Check in online.

Why do airlines like when you check-in online?

It helps them save money by reducing costs (paper, staff and time), which benefits you too as it allows them to offer cheaper fares. This is why low-cost airlines such as easyjet, Wizzair and Ryanair have made it mandatory to check-in online.

ClaimCompass tip: Some airlines will make you pay a fine if you haven’t checked-in online or if you don’t have a printed copy of your boarding pass. For instance, Wizzair will charge you anywhere between 10 and 30€ for checking-in at the airport rather than online, and up to 50€ per passenger if your boarding pass isn’t printed out.

They can also suggest you additional advantages for the comfort of your trip, from extra luggage to booking a hotel at your destination. It also lets them know that you are very likely to show up, meaning that they won’t sell your seat to someone else - and if you cancel your reservation, a new seat is immediately available online.

Why is it good for you as well?

You will save a lot of time at the airport: if you have a copy of your booking and no check-in luggage, you can go straight to the gate and skip the counter. Most airlines will let you check-in online as early as 24h before the flight and their systems work around the clock.

One thing I really like is that you can choose your seat and get comfortable during the flight: I know I love my window seat! The earlier you check-in online, the greater the choice of available seats. Although there are usually seats which you can book for free, airlines and especially low-costs may have a number of them reserved for booking at an extra-fee.

You can check-in from anywhere you want, as long as you can connect to the internet and go to the airline’s website. You can also do it using your smartphone, and although the responsiveness of some airlines’ websites can be improved, the increasing popularity of airline apps seems to solve that.

What should you be careful about?

In order to check-in online you will need your flight details, your PNR and your passport number, if you are on an international flight. You also need to know the number of bags you’ll be checking in.

Even if you’re planning on bringing a piece of luggage with you, online check-in is still a better option as you just need to drop it off at the designated counter, which tends to move faster than the regular line.

What if you can’t print your boarding pass? Even if you don’t have a printer, you can still check-in online and get your copy at the airport. If you have a smartphone, certain airlines will also be able to scan it directly off your screen. Bottom line, even if you don’t have a paper copy of your boarding pass, your seat is safe.

Online check-in will definitely make you appreciate your trip even more and help you leave with your mind at ease. The good news is that almost all major airlines offer online check-in nowadays!