Alaska Airlines is transforming the airport lobby experience

A future rendering of the lobby of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — featuring technology designed to get guests through the lobby in 5 minutes or less.

New technology is coming that will have you flying through the lobby in no time

We’ve all been there—you’re packed and ready for your trip, the excitement is building, and you arrive at the airport only to find long lines that kill your vibe. All you want to do is get through security and stop by a favorite restaurant or grab that precious pre-flight beverage.

Thankfully, this dreaded experience will soon become a thing of the past. Why? Because we’ve reimagined a more seamless travel experience, and it’s coming to an airport near you. Over the next three years, we’re investing $2.5 billion in overall improvements to enhance the airport experience within our hubs and focus cities including Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Anchorage.

We’re working on getting you through the lobby and to security in 5 minutes or less—meaning fewer lines and more time for that pre-trip snack. Much like mobile technology widely used to access sporting events and concerts, your phone is all you need to fly through the lobby.

A sneak peek at what the future lobby will look like at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Getting travel ready

The first step starts at home (or work or while you’re waiting in the school pick-up line) on the Alaska Airlines app. Guests are encouraged to check-in and secure a boarding pass before coming to the airport. Getting travel ready before coming to the airport provides peace of mind and allows you to plan your day of travel better. The Alaska Airlines app is the perfect pre-trip tool, but guests can also check-in on a desktop and send a boarding pass to their phone or print one at home.

Bonus! In addition to the time saved by our guests, this change also helps reduce the amount of paper we use—an important step toward our sustainability goals.

Tagging your bag

New bag tag stations will replace dated kiosks in lobbies where you’ll pay for and tag checked bags using iPad tablets. Because you’ve completed all other actions before arriving at the airport, it’ll only take a few quick steps. Airports have already begun changing to the new tablets and guests are adapting—with 3 out of 4 guests arriving with a boarding pass in hand to airports with the new technology. Most airports will transition to the new bag tag stations by the end of 2023.

Dropping your bags off

Beginning in spring 2024, the lobbies in our hub airports will be getting innovative technology that will allow you to drop your bags off with just a few quick scans. Popular in many international airports, we can’t wait for you to try it in Alaska’s hubs. The machine will scan your face, government-issued I.D., and bags. From there, it will take your bag(s) on a belt to be loaded onto the aircraft. The process takes less than a couple minutes and will have you on your way to security.

“As we thought about how to provide the most caring experience for our guests, it was clear the lobby was a pain point. We realized the majority of our guests were doing most of the kiosk actions on their own phones and we could reduce the congestion in our airports. Alaska was the first airline to introduce kiosks more than 20 years ago, and we’ll be the first airline to remove them. We’re looking forward to offering the new full guest experience next summer.”

– Charu Jain, Alaska Airlines senior vice president of innovation and merchandising

Need extra help?

While we know the vast majority of Americans own a smartphone, some guests may need extra assistance at the airport. For those guests, we will always have customer service agents available. We have heard from many guests that the best way we can care for them is by offering self-service options. This transformation gives you the choice between getting through the lobby quickly or receiving personalized help.

We can’t wait to welcome you into our new lobby experience soon!