BA domestic passengers forced to check-in online

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The Independent Online

Passengers travelling on domestic British Airways flights will not be able to use airport check-in desks from next month as part of an efficiency drive by the airline.

From 25 April the only way to check in for an internal flight from a UK airport will be on the airline's website, ba.com, or at an automated kiosk in the departures hall. The only exceptions will be passengers travelling in groups of more than six, on codeshare services or as unaccompanied minors.

British Airways carries about 7 million domestic passengers a year and about 30 per cent of all the airline's passengers flying from the UK check in online or at an airport kiosk. By the time the airline moves into Heathrow's new Terminal 5 in spring 2008 the aim is to increase that proportion to 80 per cent.

From next month, conventional check-in desks will be converted into "fast bag drops" where customers who have already printed off their boarding pass by computer can check in hold luggage.

In another initiative, families travelling with children or infants will be able to check in online from July. At present they have to use check-in facilities or the automated kiosks.

Martin George, British Airways' commercial director, said the changes would make the airport experience "simpler and speedier" for customers.

A British Airways spokeswoman added that automated check-in would be rolled out gradually across more of the network as the move into Terminal 5 in March 2008 got nearer.

The scrapping of traditional check-in facilities forms part of the £450m cost-saving initiative unveiled a fortnight ago by Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways.

The spokeswoman said, however, it would not lead to any job losses, unlike the closure of the airline's high street travel shops and Belfast call centre, which was announced a week ago.

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