Last week, Southwest’s big news was that it began service to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. For me, the interesting piece wasn’t in the air but rather on the ground. Southwest has introduced a pretty interesting looking ticket counter. Take a look.
At left, you can see the edge of JetBlue’s traditional ticket counter. Southwest, as you can see, hired the Kool-Aid man to bust through some walls and open things up. (Oh yeah!) There are four podiums with scales on each side. Customers can walk through the ticket counter and go directly on their way to the concourse.
Where do the bags go? Southwest spokesperson Whitney Eichinger tells me that customers take their own bags to the CTX scanning machine around the corner. Ah, LaGuardia must not have inline screening. This, according to Whitney, is actually one of the reasons they came up with this concept. It allows customers to walk right through to the CTX instead of having to go the long way around.
Most airlines that have tried to create a new ticket counter environment have gone for this “walk through” style. Take Alaska and their airport of the future, for instance. The goal is to keep people going through the process instead of creating dead-ends. I just hadn’t seen Southwest try this before, and it looks like a great setup. Here’s another view.
So will we be seeing this elsewhere? According to Whitney, “This is not a template for all our other new cities, but I do think we’ll try and use parts of this elsewhere when it makes sense.”