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October 29, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Check in earlier for Alaska flights – or miss the plane

Alaska Airlines planes are lined up at Sea-Tac Airport. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times, 2012)

Alaska Airlines planes are lined up at Sea-Tac Airport. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times, 2012)

Check in at least 40 minutes before departure for most domestic Alaska Airlines flights or risk missing your plane.

The airline Tuesday increased the minimum check-in time to 40 minutes before the flight’s departure, up from 30 minutes. The international check-in minimum remains at 60 minutes before the flight. The new check-in minimums take effect Wednesday, along with an increase in checked-baggage fees (which was announced last week).

Most of the airline’s passengers already check in well before those minimum cutoffs, thanks to online check-in. And those checking in at the airport usually do so well in advance  since they need extra time to get through airport security lines. (The TSA recommends that passengers allow at least one hour for domestic flights and two hours or more for international flights.)

Alaska’s explanation for the new check-in cutoff time: “The policy change is being made so that travelers on Alaska Airlines can expect the same minimum check-in time at almost all airports the carrier serves. The exceptions will be at airports where the check-in cutoff is already 45 minutes, such as Atlanta, Denver, Las Vegas, Newark and Philadelphia. Passengers traveling from Guadalajara (Mexico) have a 90-minute check-in cutoff time.”

What happens if you check in late?

“Starting tomorrow (Oct. 30), passengers who miss the cutoff will be treated the same way as customers today — they will be offered a $25 same-day confirmed seat on the next available flight, depending on availability,” the airline said in a statement.

Alaska’s baggage fees are going up on the same day. For tickets purchased on or after Oct. 30, the fee for checking a suitcase will increase to $25 for each of the first two bags (up from $20 per bag) and $75 for the third bag (currently $25). However, elite-level frequent fliers still get free checked bags.

Comments | More in airlines | Topics: Alaska Airlines, baggage fees, check-in time

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