It was late on a Thursday afternoon before a holiday weekend, and I was headed to Boston's Logan Airport to catch a plane. Expecting to have a long wait in the check-in line, I had left the office early.
But the experience was different than I expected. There was a long line, but not a long wait - good news for me and for other air travelers.
Shortly after I joined the queue near the US Airways counter, a roving ticket agent suggested that those of us with electronic tickets could get our boarding passes instantly at a nearby automated kiosk.
That sounded good to me, so I walked over to one of the kiosks and inserted my frequent-flier card in a slot, just as I might my credit card at an ATM. The details of my flight popped up on the computer screen, and I was asked if they were correct. I touched the screen to answer.
I had chosen my seats when I made my reservation, but if I hadn't, the kiosk would have let me select them. I could also have used the credit card with which I bought the ticket instead of a frequent-flier card.
What about luggage? Just enter the number of bags on the screen and leave them with the nearby agent.
After having me answer the FAA-mandated security questions, the machine spit out my boarding passes. Total time: less than 60 seconds.
What a boon to air travelers!
US Airways isn't the only airline to have these innovative kiosks, so look for them the next time you spy a long check-in line at a major airport.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society