Alaska Airlines nudges passengers to mobile boarding passes

Alaska Airlines is pushing passengers to load boarding passes on their smartphones by removing airport kiosks that can be used to print the passes.

The airline has removed kiosks at nine airports so far, including Portland International in Oregon. It is telling customers to use Alaska’s app to download boarding passes or print them at home.

Alaska executives said Thursday that their goal is to reduce crowding at check-in areas and get passengers to security checkpoints faster. They discussed the issue Thursday during a call with Wall Street analysts to go over first-quarter financial results.

The Seattle-based airline lost $142 million, as it was weighed down by higher fuel and labor costs during what is traditionally its weakest quarter of the year. Alaska stuck to its forecast that it will earn between $5.50 and $7.50 per share for the full year.

Shares of Alaska Air Group Inc. ended Thursday down 9 cents at $43.56.

Getting rid of kiosks is not expected to affect Alaska’s financials one way or the other, although CEO Ben Minicucci said it will help the airline grow without adding more airport space.

Chief Commercial Officer Andrew Harrison said Alaska is already seeing an increase in the number of travelers who check in for their flights and have their boarding pass before arriving at the airport.


“What you’re going to see in the future are people only needing to check bags that are going to be milling around in the lobby,” he said.

About half of Alaska’s customers check a bag, which they can do using airline-provided iPads instead of kiosks, officials said. They also say that, in a pinch, airline agents can print boarding passes for customers who arrive without one and don’t have a smartphone.

Alaska plans to remove kiosks at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport next month and at all of its locations by the end of next year.

American Airlines and United Airlines said they have no plans to eliminate their kiosks. Southwest and Delta did not comment immediately.