Looking to speed up the process of checking a bag ahead of a flight, one low-fare airline turned to technology.
Spirit Airlines partnered with McCarran International Airport in February and installed a self-service bag drop station as part of a pilot program. On Thursday, airline and airport officials declared the program a success and said it would be expanded in the coming months.
The program, which wasn’t unveiled until Thursday, is the first of its kind by a domestic carrier in the U.S., according to Mike Byrom, vice president of airport services for Spirit.
“The pilot we’ve been operating has been very successful, and the guests seem to love it,” Byrom said. “It’s actually sped up the process for people to drop their bag, and we have intentions to expand here by the end of the year.”
After travelers show their identification to a Spirit agent, they scan their boarding pass and place their bag on a conveyor belt. The luggage’s bag tag is scanned, and the bag is sent on its way.
Spirit is using one bag drop station, but it will have up to six stations online by the end of this year, Byrom said.
“That will be very sufficient for our operation here now and into the future,” he said. “I anticipate about 80 percent of our guests will be able to use the technology when there’s six lanes here.”
Spirit also plans to install the bag check stations, which are widely used in Canada and Europe, at other U.S. airports this year.
“We are pleased to partner with Spirit Airlines as we pilot this new automated self-service bag drop system,” said Clark County Director of Aviation Rosemary Vassiliadis. “As a 100 percent common-use airport, we have a long history of introducing new, customer-focused technologies geared toward enhancing the passenger experience. We look forward to this rollout with Spirit and to expanding this service to more areas of our operation in the near future.”
Byrom said the airline is looking to speed up the check-in process even further by utilizing other technology.
“One thing that we’re very interested in … is really looking toward biometric as a way to do domestic ID verification,” Byrom said. Spirit will work with the Transportation Security Administration “in order to see how we can do that and be compliant and possible remove some of the barriers that we see in this country.”
Also Thursday, Spirit launched new nonstop service from McCarran to Burbank and Sacramento, California.
The airline now has 55 daily departures from McCarran, where it has a crew base, to 29 destinations.
“We’re delighted by the growth of direct service to Las Vegas by our partners at Spirit Airlines,” said Chris Meyer, vice president of global sales for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Spirit will add nonstop flights from Las Vegas to Nashville, Tennessee, on Oct. 10.