“You cannot check in online or via your mobile device, please speak to an airport agent”…ensue intense frustration, multiple expletives and the dread of having to actually check in at the desk!
Sometimes mobile check-in won’t work…but there are a couple of reasons for this that as a frequent flyer you should know!
Firstly the airline may have overbooked the flight. Normally, airlines hedge their bets when it comes to how many people they think will cancel or not show up for a flight; letting people buy more tickets than there are seats on the plane. When it gets close to the flight departure time and everyone is checking in to the flight, unless you have a pre-booked seat, it could be the case that they don’t have space for you.
When you get to check-in, this may have changed and you may get a seat so not all is lost. However, to completely avoid this instance, it is best to always book a seat when you book your flight.
Dependent upon where you’re flying, your documents could require a further check, such as your citizenship, visas, and the requirements of the final destination. Therefore they will do a physical review at the check-in desk to see that you have everything you need before they will give you your boarding pass.
This is due to airlines being responsible for transporting you back to your origin if you fail to get through the requirements of your final destination. The overheads they would incur on this possibility outweigh the inconvenience to the passenger.
In this instance, you will usually be able to check-in, but will be notified that you will need to pick up the actual boarding pass at the airport.
In some cases you may have been flagged in the system. This could either be due to:
- Technical reasons, such as the name on your ticket doesn’t match the name on your I.D, they need to move your seat, or any other mismatching issues.
- Security reasons, such as you have been selected for extra screening. This will normally be highlighted on your boarding pass with an SSSS code. There are several reason why you might have been selected for extra security screening or it can be completely random; read our blog here to find out more about the SSSS code.
Code share flights
If you have booked with one airline (the Marketing Airline), but another airline is actually the one flying (the Operating Airline), theres a good chance that you wont be able to check-in on the Marketing Airlines site. Other instances include airlines who don’t have a great online check-in service, and you will instead need to check-in on a partner airline’s site. This is sometimes the case for smaller airlines flying out of larger airline hubs like FRA, AMS, ZRH, or LHR. For example Belavia flights out of AMS are only able to have online check-in via the KLM site.
If your flight has been purchased with a third party credit card, this can flag you for credit card fraud. Other flags for credit card fraud can be a different address on your credit card to the one on your document. As well as booking a flight very last minute and not having enough time to verify your payment method. When you have been flagged as potential fraud, they will do extra checks at the check-in desk.
In most cases, there is no reason to panic, it is just that the airline needs to cover their backs and so are forcing you to check-in in person.
Understanding why you might not be allowed to check-in online can be stressful, and knowing if there is anything you can do to avoid it happening can take a lot of time.
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