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British Airways trialling automatic check-in at six hours before departure

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British Airways started trialling a new service last week.

If your flight is taking part, you will be automatically checked in six hours before departure.

Your boarding pass will be generated and sent to you to by email – whether you like it or not.

British Airways BA A380 flying

This will not, for many people, go down very well.

Many travellers like to check in at the airport because it allows them to change their seat.   If you have BA status and have picked your seat in advance, there is no benefit to checking in early if you would prefer a better seat.  A lot of passengers on flexible tickets will cancel close to departure which means that good seats can become free.

If you don’t have BA status, it is also possible that the BA computer will select a bad seat for you.   It is not possible for BA to know your preference from what may be a poor selection – a middle seat near the front or an aisle seat next to the toilet?

Checking you in will also make it more complicated to get a refund for your ticket if it is flexible and you later choose to take a different flight.

This is just a trial of course.  It is possible that a majority of customers appreciate the service.  I get a feeling that it is a solution to a problem which did not really exist, however ….

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Comments (69)

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  • Lady London says:

    This could be useful if checking in credits my miles even if I don’t take the flight.
    Or if I’d rather just fly from London to the US starting with the second leg of my ticket, if it checks me in in Dublin automatically.

    But as this would be a benefit to customers, I don’t see BA offering that.
    This is all because not enough people are checking in online according to BA.

    As Rob and some more experienced posters have said, it’s a nightmare once you have been automatically checked in, if you don’t fly or need to change your ticket for perfectly good reasons. The process to offload you (that’s pretty much the reverse of checkin btw), re-use or change your ticket or refund it will now become much longer and more prone to errors and delays.

    Another ‘own goal’ BA.

  • Peter Taysum says:

    * Agree seems pointless, other than HBO. Another race to the bottom. As Gold I can choose, if/when I drop to Silver you lose a lot of choice, so would check at T-24 and look to re-book seat choice to something “better”.

    * For IT I don’t know about their back office, but I find the BA app better than all others; KLM is dreadful, and although Sky Elite Plus via Al Italia couldn’t get any benefit until check in in person; plus KLM/Air France block Amadeus so you can’t use My Flights app to update as it won’t let Amadeus be interrogated. It notifies of Gate opening at LHR (sluggish) and is slow to update account details (Tier Points and Avios) but overall I find I can rely on it.

    * For most of us, we know how the system works and use it to our advantage, during the trial period for those who don’t usually, do online check in prior to T-6 and problem solved (though may have cost implication in time/phone/tablet/hotel wifi)

    * At the moment having done AMS to GIG in November so NCL to AMS and with Status, I’m thinking more I’ll do KLM to AMS (with awful IT!!!! 🙂 ) and use that as my hub, it’s quick into AMS. Another option is Air France to Paris and another hub, BA seem to be encouraging that

    * BA has suddenly started saying “Hello Dr Taysum” on planes. Is this new? At first flying back from New York I though it was ‘cos I’d complained about cancelled AA flight and dreadful seats on BA replacement *shudders* but on the LHR to NCL they did it too. Any ideas?

    • Kinkell says:

      To make you feel ‘special, loved and valued’! Did it to me too coming back from SA. “Hello Mrs Kinkell, how nice to see you again. Welcome back and let me show you to your seat” I was rendered speechless. Must be BAs effort to improve the customer experience ( and I must admit it was a nice wee touch) wonder if I will be greeted as enthusiastically as I board LHR to GIG in F in a fortnight ( with my pre devaluation Amex 241 ). Enjoy it Dr Taysun!

  • harry says:

    Probably greet me: hello harry you silly old soak, shall we get you your 5 beers straight away?

  • Rishi says:


    Bit (or very) OT question:

    Im currently looking for WT flights LHR-BOM for July 22nd-August 11th 2016

    They don’t seem to be shifting from the £700 mark, does anyone know when any discount should occur to a more normal 450-550 range should occur? In around 2/3 weeks or later in April? Very confused about when to book because £730 seems excessive!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Rob says:

      ITA shows £459 on BA out of Amsterdam, changing in London.

      • Rishi says:

        Thanks for the reply

        With 2 under 5’s and a group of 9, I don’t think we would manage EX-EU, let alone explaining the concept (lol)

        Thank you for the viable option anyway! I may now just book lufthansa for £550-ish

  • American Express Sues Tori Spelling, and British Airways Forces You to Check In Whether You Want to Or Not - View from the Wing says:

    […] British Airways is testing ‘automatic check-in’ 6 hours prior to departure. “Your boarding pass will be generated and sent to you to by email – whether you like it or not.” […]

  • Sharon K says:

    This raises the question of what “check-in” actually means. It used to mean, “I’m here! I’ve arrived at the airport! Don’t give away my seat because I am here.” When airlines started allowing people to check-in online, the meaning changed to, “Okay, I remember that I am flying in the next 24 hours and have every intention of being there.” I’m sure that a significant number of people that check in somehow don’t make it to the airport on time despite their best intentions. So checked-in, but absent? What does that actually mean to the airline? When can they give away the seat to people on standby?

    Having the airline attempt to check you in without your participation? What does that accomplish, except to increase the number of people who are checked in but absent? Or who show up in a state of limbo because the airline thinks they have a boarding pass but they really don’t because their phone was turned off?

    • Stu R says:

      Good point re the meaning of ‘check-in’, but realistically, who these days has their phone turned off on the way to the airport??

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