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.”
Kudos for Southwest for not being cookie cutter… LGA is probably their least “Southwest” station…
What ever works to keep things moving can only be a plus.
Great setup, very slick and flier friendly!!
yea yea, its “wonderful.” Now how does SW intend to keep its ontime operation when a large number of its flights will now fly out of one of the most horribly delayed airports in the world? I guess they could build three hours of “turn time” in as opposed to some idiot airlines who think they can turn a plane at LGA in 30 minutes and not delay the entire system. (The cynical comments also apply to JFK, EWR, and ORD).
Southwest has this covered quite nicely.. Take a look at http://crankyflier.com/2009/04/08/southwests-interesting-new-york-laguardia-schedule-construction/ where cranky details how they’ve constructed their schedule.
The new setup looks great. I hope more airlines will follow in Southwest and AlaskaAir’s footsteps with changing out the ticket counter works. I just hope that passengers can keep up with the change.
For us tech people we love all this push and go stuff, but what if Walt and Deb turn up to go to see their grandkids and look at it like mum looks at me when I say I’m doing my Blog which is totally dumbfounded.
its easy they say, hummmm….they say!
“But where do we put the suitcases dear”……”did you print the ticket?”…”print what ticket Walt”…..”what is aTwitter?”….”you dear!” then multiply that by 50 and you have total chaos, me I like a pretty lady that gives me a boarding pass a window seat and takes my cases away and is now looking more and more like a bygone luxury.
The new Indianapolis airport that opened last fall has walk-thru counters for all the airlines. It’s great for traffic flow.
Laura – That’s a little different than what Southwest is doing at LaGuardia. At Indianapolis (similar to what you find in many airports, like SFO’s international terminal), the ticket counters are shifted 90 degrees. So when you walk in, instead of running into the ticket counter, they run parallel to your path into the terminal. That does make it easier to go through than the traditional setup.
What Southwest has done (and others before) is take the traditional ticket counter and just bust through the walls. So you walk up to the ticket counter as you normally would, but then you just walk right through where it used to be.
Bust thru walls or shift the counter 90 degrees and continue on to security/concourse/bag drop? The traffic flow is great either way. Kudos to all who thought this up.
Wow. Only took them 5 years to copy Alaska Airlines. Well, it is true that imitation is the highest form of flattery. Perhaps in this case it’s jealousy.