Online check-in may not be something new to flyers in other countries, but there are still very few Vietnamese passengers choosing this convenient method, no matter how busy the airports are.
Local airlines and the country’s aviation watchdog are therefore encouraging more Vietnamese flyers to check in online instead of physically completing pre-flight procedures.
As Vietnam observed the Lunar New Year, or Tet, the aviation market entered the busiest time of the year, with demand for air travel spiking at least a month before and after the holiday officially began on February 8.
Although national carrier Vietnam Airlines and budget airline Vietjet have located many online check-in machines at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, most local passengers continue to opt for the traditional counters.
“It might be a matter of habit,” said Vo Huy Cuong, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).
“Passengers may feel more confident when they complete procedures at the check-in counters, or have too much luggage to do the web check-in.”
Cuong admitted that the CAAV has yet to produce statistics on how many Vietnamese passengers have checked in online during the Tet season, but “online check-in is a method which passengers should be urged to use.”
The CAAV wants more passengers to use online check-in to reduce pressure on airports, he added.
“We will try to work with international airlines to have more flights allowing online check-in to shorten the processing time for passengers and encourage more of them to use this method,” he said.
An airline attendant helps passengers with online check-in at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Vietnam Airlines started accepting online check-in in June 2015, but the number of passengers checking in online only surged during Tet, according to the carrier’s representative.
From February 3 to 8, the busiest time for people to fly home for Tet, Vietnam Airlines logged approximately 5,000 online check-ins, or 20 percent of their total number of passengers.
“With online check-in, passengers can save time and be able to respond in a timely way to any issues related to their tickets,” a Vietnam Airlines representative said.
“Those who use online check-in only need to arrive at the airport 15 minutes before their flight, instead of 40 minutes for those who use check-in counters.”
Passengers who complete online check-in, either at home using their computers or smartphones or via machines installed at airports, will have their boarding pass emailed to them, which they can use to pass security and board their flight without having to get it printed.
But not all passengers know of the availability of online check-in.
A Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporter visited Noi Bai International Airport on Sunday, where Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet have three counters each to serve online check-in passengers, and saw very few passengers using the service.
When asked, many said they had not been informed of the online check-in when purchasing their tickets.
“This is the first time I have heard of online check-in,” said Huynh Cong Minh, a medical student in the central city of Hue.
As Minh still opted for the traditional check-in, he had to come to the airport very early.
“Airlines should have made the service more widely known to passengers to help ease airport pressure, especially during peak times.”