What’s the deal with charging a fee for the airline check-in kiosks at some hotels?

Online check-in for airlines is a convenience that business travelers and many others appreciate. During the last couple of years many hotels have installed airline check-in kiosks in their lobbies as a hotel guest courtesy, and travelers have welcomed these airline check-in kiosks.

Oddly enough, it seems that the Internet is now being perceived as a business travel luxury item because of the hefty daily rate some hotels charge for guest room or business center access, so the ability to handle a simple airline check-in at the hotel is appreciated and remembered.

While I was walking through a major hotel chain in downtown Chicago the other day, I noticed a business woman using an airline check-in kiosk and briefly chatted with her. It was then when I discovered the hotel now charges 3 USD, which really disappointed her — and me. I’m certain this hotel chain knows about the detailed expense reports demanded for business travel expenses, so why would they want to expect their business customers to be happy about going through the effort of charging the expense and then spending more time with this paper trail when they return to the office?

Perhaps it’s important for hotels to realize that just because they may be located in a major city does not rationalize the additional fee for airline check-in convenience.

This service was introduced as a value-add without charge, and most hotels haven’t added a fee yet: it helps business travelers and others to save precious time at the airport, and the airlines benefit because it helps reduce some of the congestion at airline check-in areas.

When I recently stayed at The Venetian in Las Vegas, during my hotel check-out, the front desk voluntarily offered to confirm my airline check-in if I hadn’t already done so. This may be an old fashioned approach, but it’s also welcomed by business travelers.

Originally Published May 17, 2009