Tired of the grouchy attitude or bad breath of your gate agent? Well now there’s a solution if you’re flying through Houston!
Self-boarding is being tested select Continental gates at IAH. Lufthansa has already offered self-boarding for years, as do 13 other airlines worldwide, but Continental is the first U.S. carrier to offer automated boarding. Similar to entering the subway system in New York or Washington, a scan of your boarding pass releases the turnstile, allowing you to enter the jet bridge.
The benefits of self-boarding for airlines is not to shave time off of the actual boarding process, but to free up agents assist passengers in other ways.
Lufthansa spokesman Martin Riecken says while loading customers at self-boarding gates is "a little faster" than traditional gates, the airline’s primary goal was to free agents from the mundane task of scanning boarding passes. It frees them to handle other customer issues that require individual attention, such as upgrading seats, he says. The number of agents assigned to automated gates isn’t different from other gates: one or two agents for short-haul flights, three or four for longer ones, he says.
The TSA has chimed in as well.
The Transportation Security Administration, which is in charge of air security, "determined it does not impact the security of the traveling public," says Greg Soule, a TSA spokesman, adding all passengers are screened at airport checkpoints prior to arriving at boarding gates.
Whew. I’m relieved.
Personally, I like dealing with gate agents when I board. It doesn’t happen often, but my ego enjoys being thanked by name by a gate agent for being so loyal while she scans my boarding pass. Jejune no doubt, but don’t try to tell me you don’t appreciate the lip-service either.