If you arrive at the Walla Walla Regional Airport 30 minutes before your flight, you’ll soon find out you’re 10 minutes too late. Alaska Airlines has changed its check-in times at airports across the country, said Walla Walla Regional Airport Manager Jennifer Skoglund.
Checking bags or not, those traveling on domestic flights must arrive 40 minutes before departure. That time does not account for the line through security. Skoglund said those traveling to Seattle should plan to arrive an hour before departure.
The change has been a slightly painful one, said Greg Sullivan, the Alaska’s local customer service manager.
The check-in counter closes 40 minutes before takeoff, meaning those who haven’t checked in by then will be left behind. “We, of course, have been getting a few passengers that show up late and aren’t making it on” the plane, Sullivan said.
He said the change makes passenger screening more efficient and ensures the bags will be on the plane.
As winter weather rolls in, he believes it will also help reduce delays, even for de-icing.
Although the airline has technically had a 40-minute cutoff for checked bags in place over the past year or so, Sullivan said employees have continued to accept them until about 30 minutes before the flight. That isn’t the case any longer.
“We only have one checkpoint lane. We don’t have multiple lanes,” he said. “And still if everybody shows up at 50 minutes prior (to takeoff) that’s going to take a long time to get through the checkpoints.”
He said the local colleges have been alerted to the changes as a reminder to students, faculty and staff.
Sullivan said travelers can check in at home and get their boarding passes online.
By the end of the year, he said TSA may have a mobile boarding pass station, which would help clear congestion for those traveling without checked bags.