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No 2001-3 -Tuesday, february 27, 2001


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  Innovation: launching of the first totally wireless check-in by Alaska Airlines  

Alaska Airlines is a regular as far as technological innovations are concerned.

In September 1999, Alaska Airlines was the first airline company ever to allow its customers to check-in online.

Internet users only had to connect themselves on the Alaska Airlines website and could print their boarding pass on their own printer.

Not satisfied with this world première, Alaska Airlines does it again and presently makes the wireless boarding pass available to any Palm or wireless phone user.

This wireless check-in opportunity allows Alaska Airlines customers to check in with their wireless devices as late as an hour before departure.

This system differs from the one offered by American Airlines as the latter still requires employees to roam the gate area to scan passenger's tickets with wireless devices. But the Alaska Airlines check-in is totally autonomous and constitutes a real technological première.

Palm users only have to download a little application to their PC's and sync it with their Palms. As for cell phone users, they have direct access to the service via

Let's point out that not only is the proceeding free of charge but also that every single consumer who uses Web Check-in or Alaska Airlines wireless device earns an extra 500 bonus miles that comes on top of the 1.000 bonus miles any Internet user gets when purchasing a ticket on the site for the first time.

Alaska Airlines passengers can now choose between three "external" automated check-in systems that can either:

  • Print their-boarding pass at work or at home on their PC.

  • Use the wireless Boarding Pass (see below).

  • Use Instant Travel Machines (ITM): interactive kiosks that can be found in various airports served by Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, which belongs to the same group.

This type of technological innovation is a way for airline companies to resist the price pressure that is presently being exerted on the Internet but it also constitutes a way to stand up to the competition that exists between online travel agencies.

Airline companies might find it easier to customise visitors via this type of innovation than through online travel agencies that cannot adapt themselves quite so easily and the Internet price policy chosen by the site also makes it easier to establish loyalty.


In my opinion, it is just as important to offer this type of service to your customers than to give them a second bonus to prompt them to use it.

It always proves difficult to change Internet usage patterns and no matter how high-standard innovations might be, what usually prompt people to use them often proves to be just a supplementary asset. If such asset does not exist, only a small number of customers will use the technological innovation and it will never prove profitable.

Alaska Airlines seems to understand quite well the way its customers behave and this is how it manages to consolidate even more its image of up-to-date airline company.

Source : Alaska Airlines

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