Alaska launches DIY bag drop pilot project at LAX

Many people are familiar with self-checkout at the grocery store – it can be a speedy and simple option when there are long lines or when purchasing just a few items. Imagine that ability, but with bags at the airport. Alaska Airlines is bringing this technology to the Los Angeles International Airport by piloting a “Scan and Fly” self-bag-drop process that started this week.

Alaska Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to give fliers the option of checking their own bag. The innovative test at Los Angeles is part of Alaska’s DNA – Alaska was the first U.S. carrier to sell airline tickets online and allow customers to check-in online, among other firsts. While new to the U.S., the self-bag-drop lanes use technology that has been implemented by carriers in Asia and Europe in many airports with great success.

For the next two months customers traveling through Los Angeles will have the option to drop their bags with this new procedure:

  1. Check in via, airport kiosk or mobile app
  2. Attach a bag tag printed either at home or from an airport kiosk
  3. Show ID to the customer service agent and proceed to one of the six self-bag-drop lanes to drop bags. The touch screen at each lane will walk customers through a series of simple prompts and instructions. From start to finish, early tests were clocking in at less than 30 seconds to check in a bag.

This doesn’t mean there are fewer agents to assist customers – customers who prefer to check in and drop bags with a customer service agent will still have that option. At least two agents will assist customers at these self-service stations, checking IDs, answering questions, and providing any troubleshooting support.

“This technology will allow customer service agents to interact more with customers one-on-one in the lobby while having the machines complete the technical work of dropping the bags,” said Mike Stanley, general manager of Alaska Airlines operations in Los Angeles. “We are very excited to be testing this new technology and hope to set a new standard for expediting the check-in process for customers.”

During the trial period, customers can choose between working directly with customer service agents to drop a bag or try the self-service option. For tech-forward travelers or people looking for the speediest way to their gates, the self-bag-drop process is expected to save time.

The pilot period for self-bag-drop ends Nov. 10. Customers who use this process will be invited to participate in a survey after they travel, and are encouraged to provide honest feedback about their experience. This will inform next steps and future rollout of the processes.

“We are thrilled to test this innovative technology in Los Angeles. During the trial period, we hope that customers will find the process easy and hassle-free and we welcome feedback,” said Jeff Butler, Alaska’s vice president of airport operations and customer service.

California is a major focus for Alaska Airlines’ growth and investment. Los Angeles International Airport is one of the busiest airports Alaska serves, with an estimated two million passengers this year, and offered a great starting point to launch the pilot.


  1. This is brilliant! I first encountered it in Fairbanks. Very easy to print the tag, add to the bag, and away you go, with one less line to wait in. Thumbs up!

  2. Get it going at all of your airports this is great and works well in Germany!!!!

  3. I’ve used this at many airports in Europe. Quick and easy. Nice to see Alaska will lead the pack in the US.

  4. We used the self-bag check in Australia 5 years ago and loved it. Thanks Alaska!

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