This blog post was updated on December 18, 2020.

Whether you’re flying around the globe or staying at a hotel, travel involves being around large groups of people, and therefore lots of germs. One way to ensure that you stay as safe and hygienic as you can is by using contactless check-in. What’s contactless check-in? It’s a safety protocol that’s just what it sounds like: a way to check in while traveling, like at a hotel or at an airport, with as close to zero contact as possible to prevent exposure to potential illnesses.  

But you, like a lot of travelers, may not fully understand these safety measures that are becoming more and more popular and how to incorporate them into your plans. Don’t worry, we’ve broken it down for you, so you’ll know how to use contactless check-in and what to expect.

Prep in Advance

packing list for contactless check-in travel

When it comes to staying safe and healthy abroad, being prepared can make or break your trip. And that’s especially true when it comes to contactless check-in. You’ll need a list of all the items you have to bring as soon as your reservations are booked. What you’ll need to bring or prepare ahead of time varies from place to place, hotel to hotel, and airline to airline. Make sure you check out the airline, car rental agency, or hotel’s website to look at their procedures and if you’ll need to bring anything extra. If you’ve looked online but still aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to call them up. You don’t want to be caught off guard!

Every situation will vary, but some of the most common items you’ll probably need to pack no matter what include: gloves, hand sanitizer, and face masks (don’t forget to bring extras!). Make sure you do your research on any other identification documents or information you may need to have with you and make sure you have a digital copy on your phone for contactless check-in, such as copies of your photo ID, social security number, and more. Most importantly, bring a power bank so you can make sure your phone is always charged – you’ll be needing it!

It’s likely you’ll need to download more than one app and create accounts for them ahead of time. You don’t want to have to deal with all of that when you get to wherever you need to check-in, so download in advance. Also, it’s important to remember that even if a business or company doesn’t feature the term “contactless check-in,” it still might be an option via their already existing digital concierge features or customer service preferences that were originally designed for quick or automated check-in.

Related: Your Guide to Traveling Healthy

Stay Safe at the Airport

contactless check-in - printing boarding pass at the airport

If you’ve done the prep work, you should not only know your airline’s contactless check-in procedures but what, if anything, the airports you’re traveling through are advising passengers. Some airports are doing extra health screenings with touchless devices that will take your temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate. Don’t be surprised to learn if public health agencies are tracking that data for passengers and, if a traveler falls outside the normal range of any of the metrics, they might stop them from boarding.

Most airlines now offer online check-in for flights up to 24 hours before takeoff via their website or app and allow you to print the boarding pass at home or download it to your phone. This is perfect for contactless check-in, and you should take advantage of it. But be aware that some situations may force you to check-in in-person at the airport, such as if you’re traveling in a large group, require a special service (like a wheelchair), or flying internationally and your passport information isn’t on file with the airline. So, again, it’s essential to prepare.

If you’re flying with baggage, many airlines now utilize self-service check-in for luggage, which are great for social distancing as they’re usually at spaced-out kiosks. Once you find an available kiosk, you’ll often just need to insert your credit card and flight confirmation code (found on your boarding pass). Then, you’ll be asked to review your flight details and confirm they’re correct. You’ll even have an option to upgrade your seat if you’d like, as long as there are open seats available. You can choose to scan your boarding pass or enter in your info. They will also ask you how many bags you need to check and pay any applicable fees. Don’t worry if you get stuck, there should be an attendant nearby to help you. Make sure you have gloves and hand sanitizer when you’re using the kiosk – you don’t want to spread or pick up any germs!

Check Into the Right Hotel

Contactless check-in phone app as a room key

All hotels do things differently. If you want to ensure a contactless check-in wherever you’ll be staying, you’ll probably need to look up different hotel protocols and procedures in the areas you’re heading to and do some comparing and contrasting, and talk to them on the phone as well. The hotel will likely use an app to take care of check-in in advance and keep it contact-free, of course. Additionally, most apps offer all the regular services a hotel usually offers, from room service to room keys, so while you may not see as many workers in person, your stay won’t be compromised.

Keep in mind that just because a hotel also uses a mobile app for online check-in or check-out, doesn’t mean it’ll be contactless. If you can’t find any information about contactless check-in on their website, go ahead and call them. Once that’s settled, make sure you have your app downloaded with all the login info and documentation you may need ready to go. Some other contactless features to look for in a hotel include routine disinfection and room service robots! Bring a face mask and gloves to wear in common areas such as the elevator or lobby. It may sound like a lot to think about. Still, all of these safety practices will create less contact between employees and guests, not only decreasing the likelihood of spreading illnesses, but also making the process simpler and faster.

Be Understanding

contactless check-in - be understanding to staff

Remember, while it’s vital for you to stay hygienic, safe, and healthy, it’s just as crucial for hotel, airport, and airline employees as well. So, while you’re using contactless check-in, be patient, don’t be afraid to ask questions, be kind, and, most importantly, stay safe! If you plan ahead of time and research what you’ll need, you’ll feel much better about traveling safely.

Do you have any experience with contactless check-in? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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About The Author

Gabby Teaman is a content writer who loves writing (of course!), editing, food, and the Oxford comma. When she’s not writing for Fareportal, she can be found Snapchatting videos of her puppy, blasting show tunes, or watching Netflix, all while trying to read everything in sight.