Question about checking in @ the airport

Of the zillions of times we’ve flown, this has never come up.

Wife and I are flying to Europe on Thursday. Unfortunately I have to work a full shift before we are scheduled to leave so time will be tight. And I have no way of getting out of the shift. With this trip I’m completely out of vaca time, comp time, and personal leave, and none of that get’s refreshed until July 1st. Nobody was able to switch with me and if I call in sick they’ll know why and I’ll end up with a fact finding and a write up.

I was thinking about checking us in and dropping off our luggage at the airport on my way to work. That way we’d have our boarding passes and everything and could just go right to TSA when we both go.

In the past we’ve checked in online and printed our passes, but that was for domestic flights.

For an international flight will they let me check her in and drop off her luggage with out my wife physically being there? I’ll of course have her passport with me.

I couldn’t find any FAQ’s on this online.

In general, airlines are extremely careful about verifying your travel documents when you’re on an international flight. If the country you’re traveling to refuses to let you in for whatever reason, they have to fly you back at their expense. So the check-in agents at the point of origin always check that everyone present has a valid passport and (if necessary) visa. I would assume that part of this check is verifying that the person standing in front of them is the same as the person who holds the passport, which wouldn’t be possible if your wife is not there.

This said, I have never run into this situation myself, and I’m not a check-in agent for a major airline, so it’s conceivable that there’s some weird exception to these rules & procedures. I look forward to being corrected.

ETA: There’s a discussion of this subject (among others) in a thread over at Travel StackExchange, which mostly backs up what I said above.

Call your airline for the straightest of straight dope.

Returning to the US from the Caribbean, I tried to check-in and check our luggage once without my gf being present (trying to save $ for parking). They wouldn’t allow it and seemed shocked that I thought it might work.

You haven’t shared exactly how close you’ll be cutting it, so it’s hard to offer an opinion. They want you there 2hrs early, is that right? What is your time line? How early CAN you make it there?

I’d call the airline and ask for special arrangements, see what they can offer, if anything.

I’d be very surprised, in today’s world, if they’ll issue a boarding pass to someone not physically present, but who knows?

Do let us know how you work it out, we’ll all be curious what they suggest, and if you can make it work!

Good Luck!

I don’t think this is an international-specific problem. The main issue is the bags, which I don’t think they’ll accept from a passenger who isn’t present to answer the security questions.

how early are you going to be there? The last time I flew internationally (Feb), I wanted to check in early and head to the lounge, but the check-in counters didn’t even open until like 4 hours before the flight.

In short, no.

Your wife must be there to validate that she’s checking her luggage onto the plane.

It’ll cost you some extra fees, but you might be able to check yourself in with two bags (paying an extra bag fee) then let your wife check in separately (with no bags) while you are at work.

I haven’t flown internationally in a long time, can you not check in online and print boarding passes online for international flights? If you can, I’d do the same scheme as above, but initiate the process online and then just stop by the airport with your bags on the way to work. You’ll already have boarding passes for the both of you and the airline will be expecting two bags on your ticket.

This is pretty situation-specific. Every airline is going to abide by the federal regs, but there’s a lot of room for interpretation. You really need to know what *your airline *at *your airport *can accommodate. Even that airline’s central customer service 800 number may not be able to give you the 100% straight skinny.

As an example, different airports have different limitations on how much early-checked baggage they can physically store. So airline-wide policy may be they can take early check-in bags up to, say, 6 hours early. But your airport is space-constrained (or staffing constrained) and will only take bags 4 hours early. That’s the kind of local knowledge the central customer service people may not have, or that may not be kept up to date in the database they’re reading from.

If you can visit the airport ticket counter or find a phone number that leads to the airline’s local airport office, you can get the straightest most reliable word. They may also be able to offer alternatives none of us have thought of. It may be easier to find a phone number for your airline’s “baggage services” office at your airport. Those are the folks who deal with lost luggage. That local number is often in the phone book (the what??) even when the ticket counter’s local number is not.

Clearly this is a high leverage situation where a screw-up in either direction has big consequences for your vacation. Measure twice cut once might be the way to go.

Or reverse it: Ask your wife to check in at the proper time with both your bags. Awkward, but do-able. Bonus: If you are late arriving from work and have to take a later flight, your luggage will already be at the destination.

Not a bad idea! Have your wife drive to the airport with your bags and check them both. Then you take a cab from work so you don’t have two cars at the airport. That way you can check-in and print boarding passes individually (online or in person).

I seem to recall some rule about everyone from one ‘booking’ checking in at the same time, but I don’t remember if that is something set in stone or just a policy.

You’re right. I could check us both in at the DIY kiosk and nobody would be the wiser. But then there is her bag.

And that’s what I’ll have to do. I’ll check us both in at the kiosk but then pay the additional (you get 1 bag free) $50 for a second bag. Who ever mentioned take a taxi is unaware that it would cost more than $50 to do that.

My wife is not able to go to the airport while I’m at work for reasons that are irrelevant.

All of this is an anomaly. Doll and I travel a lot. Been to all 50 states and over 30 countries. Usually our travel is well planned and everything runs smooth as silk.

But what happened is, after I had already locked in my vacation time in and booked a package to Amsterdam & Brussels, my shift got changed as did my off days. This skewed things as previously I would have had all day Thursday off. I’ve already burned my other vacation time with the exception of 5 days that I have for some travel in May. So I have no options and time will be tight on Thursday. If we were to run into a line at the check in counter we might not make it to our flight.

So, I will be checking us both in at the DIY kiosk prior to going to work, checking both bags as though they were both mine, then picking her up directly after work and going straight to the airport and security line.

Then sit on a plane for 8 1/2 hours. :eek::frowning:

I am going to need a vacation after all that.

Do you definitely need a bag each?

I’m always amazed at the amount of stuff people take for relatively short breaks. We went as a family (two adults two kids) to Florida last easter for two weeks and each of us managed perfectly well with a 10kg carry-on each and the equivalent of a laptop bag. No checked luggage at all.

Could you not increase the size of one checked bag (even if it means paying slightly more) and both of you maximise the carry-on allowance? as well?
That would get you at least 40-50kg between you and obviously the one who is there early would simply check in the big bag.

Yes. We’re going for almost 2 weeks. And we’re staying in nice hotels and such, not beach combing. If we were going to Florida to bum around on Siesta Key, then we’d only only need carry ons.

I’ve already spent over 3 grand on this trip. What’s another 50 bucks? Can’t believe I didn’t think of the solution before opening this thread. :smack:

Bolding mine.

IANA expert on the passenger handling side of the biz. But I bet this won’t work for an international flight.

“Checking in” for domestic consists of telling the kiosk “I/we are here” and it spitting out boarding passes plus checked baggage labels if needed. One and done.

Conversely, AIUI “Checking in” for international consists of telling the kiosk “I/we are here” and it spitting out a piece of paper you show to a human who examines everyone’s passport and face, then trades that paper for boarding passes. Or the human is circulating around a cluster of kiosks and you wait with your transaction half completed until they work around to you and examine your passports.

I have little confidence you’ll succeed at checking in your wife in unless her smiling face is standing next to you at that time.
Again, I’m NOT the guru on this. But I’d sure suggest you check with that airline’s customer service people directly.

Various Googling suggests that 4 hours is a typical maximum time ahead of a flight when bags can be checked. So it would make all sorts of sense to check this with the airline.

Yes. AIUI, an airline that brings into any country a person not holding a valid passport can be required to promptly transport that person out of the country. Which tends to make airlines quite careful about checking passports.

As described by the OP, the best opportunity for saving time looks to be heading directly from work to airport. This could be accomplished by having a friend drive wife & baggage to work, grab OP exactly as shift ends, and head to airport.

We’ve flown to Belize and Ireland over the past year and both times the kiosk did indeed spit out boarding passes as well as tags for the luggage. The passport went into the machine and we did not have to show them to anyone until we dropped the bags off. So you are incorrect.

I am going to check us in before I go to work and check 2 bags for myself and pay the $50. If for some reason that does not work I will report back here.

If your first bag is normally free to you for domestic travel, then internationally you normally get two free bags. Check your airline rules.

Just trying to help you avoid a SNAFU. Good to know at least that airline is letting the kiosk check the passport and assuming the person is connected to it.