Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air Unveil Plan to Transform Customer Check-in Process at Sea-Tac

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air today unveiled an $18 million plan to transform customer check-in at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport by the end of 2007. The "Airport of the Future" concept,...

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air today unveiled an $18 million plan to transform customer check-in at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport by the end of 2007.

The "Airport of the Future" concept, introduced by Alaska Airlines in 2004 and patented in 2006, is designed to speed check-in and reduce passenger waiting times. The unique design will eliminate the airlines’ traditional ticket counters and, instead, provide customer-friendly islands of check-in kiosks and bag-check stations.

"The check-in process has traditionally been hurry-up-and-wait in line at a counter," said Ed White, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of real estate. "With Airport of the Future, we’re removing the traditional barrier between the customer and where he or she wants to go, allowing our passengers to get from curbside to planeside in record time."

"We’re delighted to see this concept brought to our airport," said Port of Seattle Commissioner Patricia Davis. "Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are our biggest airline customers; it’s great to see our hometown carriers continue their tradition of innovation in the aviation industry."

Together, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air customers represent nearly half of the passenger traffic at Sea-Tac. The airlines combined serve an average of 26,000 passengers daily at their main hub airport, with about three-quarters flying on Alaska and one-quarter flying on Horizon.

Alaska Airlines debuted the "Airport of the Future" design in 2004 at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska, where it helped reduce congestion in the check-in area and cut customer wait times in half. Alaska has implemented similar, though smaller-scale, designs in Los Angeles; Boise, Idaho; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; and several locations in Alaska.

The overall size of Alaska and Horizon’s check-in area at Sea-Tac will remain the same. However, by removing the ticket counters and moving office space upstairs to the mezzanine level, customer-service space will increase from about 9,000 to nearly 14,000 square feet.

Customers will check in and receive their boarding passes at one of 50 kiosks called Instant Travel Machines. These may be bypassed if the passenger has already checked in online.

Customers with only carry-on baggage will proceed directly to the security checkpoint, while passengers with checked luggage will proceed to one of 54 bag-check points at three islands. Customer service employees at these locations will scan customers’ boarding passes and affix bag tags. A newly designed conveyor-belt system at each check point will weigh and automatically move the baggage onto the main luggage conveyor belt on its way to the aircraft.

"This design has been especially convenient for the growing number of our customers who check in online, because they don’t have to wait behind other passengers checking in at the airport and can proceed immediately to the bag-check area," White said.

Dedicated check-in and bag-check areas will be available to Alaska and Horizon first class and MVP Gold customers and Horizon Air Shuttle passengers. A Customer Service Center will serve passengers who need additional assistance.

Construction by Seattle-based Absher Construction Company will occur in phases, during which the airlines’ operations will continue normally. A portion of the construction costs, representing airport infrastructure improvement, will be reimbursed by the Port of Seattle.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air have long pioneered technology to improve the customer experience. The airlines were the first North American carriers to sell tickets online in 1995 and, four years later, were the first carriers worldwide to offer Internet check-in and boarding passes. Today, almost two-thirds of Alaska and Horizon customers check in online or at one of 444 kiosks at 80 airports.

Alaska Airlines and sister carrier, Horizon Air, together serve 89 cities through an expansive network throughout Alaska, the Lower 48, Canada and Mexico. For reservations visit For more news and information, visit the Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air Newsroom at

FCMN Contact:

SOURCE: Alaska Airlines

CONTACT: Amanda Tobin Bielawski, +1-206-392-5134, or Caroline Boren,
+1-206-392-5799, both of Alaska Airlines