Would you pay $10 to check in at this airport desk?

By Abby Gillies

Jetstar are now charging a service fee for using physical check-in. Photo / Jason Dorday.
Jetstar are now charging a service fee for using physical check-in. Photo / Jason Dorday.

Budget airline Jetstar is set to charge customers extra to check-in with a human being.

The Qantas subsidiary will impose a flat fee for customers on domestic flights on both sides of the Tasman from November. The fee has yet to be set but will be between $5 and $10.

The fee is designed to reduce airline costs and speed up the checking-in process.

Jetstar spokeswoman Andrea Wait described the move as a "positive" for customers.

"Rather than a charging a fee, we are seeking to offer our customers choice. For those that don't want to use the check-in counters, they will save," she said.

The move has provoked protests in Australia with a group representing the vision-impaired leading the outcry.

And it got a mixed response from passengers at Auckland airport yesterday.

Administration worker Karen Gordon said the charge was an unnecessary extra cost.

The 23-year-old checked in for her flight to Queenstown at the desk because she liked talking to a real person. She said extra costs, such as baggage allowance, "all add up".

"It's just another way to make money."

But Nick Sutherland, 31, who was flying to Wellington with his 18-month-old son, said the move towards self-service was good for everyone: "It gives people the option and saves money for the airline."

He said $10 was a "fair" price for face-to-face check-in.

Wait said about 85 per cent of Jetstar customers already use self-service options such as internet check-in, airport kiosks and text technology.

Traditional counters would still be available for those who could not use the kiosks or preferred to talk to a person, but the airline aimed to achieve 100 per cent self-service check-in.

The move is part of a worldwide trend that has seen budget airlines charge extra costs for almost everything on top of the seat - making the actual ticket a fraction of the total cost.

Fees for food, drinks and checked baggage are standard on many budget airlines, including Jetstar.

UK budget airline easyJet also charges customers extra for insurance, the cost of offsetting the environmental impact of the flight and about $50 to join a priority boarding queue.

Ryanair, another European carrier, announced it was considering charging passengers to use on-board toilets.

An Air New Zealand spokesman said the airline planned to extend self-service check-in options but had no plans to introduce a charge for dealing with a human.

New options will include using a text message as a boarding pass and checking-in bags with cellphones.

- Herald on Sunday

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