APEX Insight: Along with security and immigration, the bag drop process is a well-known passenger pain point. American Airlines has teamed up with AirPortr to do the heavy lifting so its customers don’t have to.
AirPortr, a travel technology start-up that offers mobile luggage check-in and delivery services in London, has partnered with American Airlines (AA) to offer its services to all passengers flying with AA to the US from Heathrow Airport.
Eligible travellers can book a one-hour slot up until seven hours before their flight through either AA or AirPortr’s website – or using AirPortr’s UK call centre – during which an AirPortr driver will collect their bags from any London address and scan their travel documents. Prices start at £30 for the first item and £10 for each additional item.
Luggage is then sealed in tamper-proof cases and screened by AirPortr according to the Civil Aviation Authority’s security standards, before being delivered to the airline for further screening. Customers are sent IATA bag receipts around 90 minutes before take-off and collect their bags from baggage reclaim at their destination airport.
A new feature announced with the AA partnership sees drivers use a set of portable digital scales to weigh the customers’ bags. If necessary, an excess luggage payment can be done either on the doorstep using the driver’s proprietary AirPortr app or automatically when the company checks in the bags, meaning travelers can still avoid going to the check-in desk.
AirPortr received a £2 million investment from Stobart Group earlier this year, and has delivered 50,000 bags since it launched with British Airways (BA) on flights from Gatwick and Heathrow airports in October 2016. The company’s CEO, Randel Darby, confirms it has already picked up pre-bookings due to the AA codeshare on its BA channel. It is currently increasing marketing regarding the AA partnership, which will be bolstered by plans to extend the service to destinations in the US.
So far, the route where the company sees the most engagement is between London and New York JFK. “51% of customers say they use the service for transatlantic commuting,” explained Darby. “Sundays and Mondays tend to be the busiest days for bookings as customers make travel plans for flights in the week ahead. When it comes to collections, Thursday evenings and Friday mornings tend to be the busiest slots, as people fly away for the weekend and don’t want to take their luggage to the office.”
Touting itself as the first mobile luggage check-in service to be integrated into the airline booking system, AirPortr’s services were developed in consultation with the CAA and the Transport Security Administration to ensure all of its processes meet aviation security regulations.