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Qantas Next-Generation Check-in: top 10 things you need to know

By danwarne     Filed under: qantas, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Airlines, q bag tag, q card, check-in, airports, Sydney Airport, baggage, Qantas Next-Gen Check-in, RFID, baggage limits, Perth Airport

Qantas’ Next-Generation Check-in system is now in full-swing, with the associated reduction of baggage allowances from June 1.

Here are the top 10 things you need to know about the new check-in system.

#1 You might not be able to use it yet

While most Frequent Flyers have now received their new Next-Generation Check-In Kit (containing the new smartchipped “Q Card”, which replaces the Frequent Flyer card, and electronic bag tags) there are still some people saying they haven't yet received theirs. Qantas had promised everyone would receive their pack by “early 2011” -- so if you haven't received yours, it might be worth calling Qantas Frequent Flyer customer service to check that they've got a current mailing address for you.

(You can check out our photo gallery of what the new card and tags look like for a Platinum Frequent Flyer.)

#2 You might never be able to use it

At this stage, Qantas is only ploughing money into providing new wireless cards and tags for Silver, Gold and Platinum Frequent Flyers. If you’re a Bronze Frequent Flyer, or (gasp) an ordinary person with no membership, you won’t get the bag tags for free – and you'll still have to stand in line and front up to a (gasp) real person to check your bags.

#3 You can buy a bag tag ... for $50

Qantas is now selling electronic bag tags to bronze Frequent Flyers and non-members for a rather incredible $50 apiece. However, you still won't get the chip-embedded Frequent Flyer card to enable you to simply "tap" to check in. (And if you're not getting that, you'll be standing at a touch-screen punching in your flight details anyway, so sticking the printed bag tag on your suitcase won't take much longer.)

#4 You can buy one cheaper on eBay

Lots of Frequent Flyers have excess bag tags (for example, if they were silver-level and got two silver tags, and then soon qualified for gold, and got two gold bag tags as well.) They're turning those extra bag tags into a bit of money for beer on eBay -- and you can pick them up considerably cheaper than what Qantas is charging.

#5 You can lend your bag tags to family members (or use one bought on eBay)

Wondering if you can lend or give one of your wireless Qantas bag tags to a friend or family member? The answer is yes. Following Australian Business Traveller enquiries, Qantas has confirmed that the tags are not linked to any one traveller's frequent flyer profile, but rather, are linked to a specific check-in. See our full explanation of this tip.

#6 Qantas will give you two free bag tags a year

If you lose your bag tag, or it is damaged, Qantas will send you two replacement bag tags each membership year, free of charge.

See our story about damaged bag tags (including a photo of one member's tag, massacred after just one trip).

#7 Your bag tags won’t work for international flights

This new check-in and baggage system is the most advanced in the world in terms of using wireless RFID (radio frequency identification) chips for everything from check-in, baggage routing, lounge entry and boarding. So, naturally, the rest of the world hasn’t caught up (some countries are still coming around to the idea of print-at-home boarding passes).

Qantas says you can use your Q Card to check-in for an international flight if you are first taking a domestic flight and then transfering to the connecting international flight. But after check-in at the kiosk you will still have to front up to a service counter for passport and identity checks.

#8 Nasty new baggage restrictions

Next Generation Check-in comes with tighter baggage restrictions.

For tickets purchased after December 1st 2010, and flights taken from 1st June 2011, Qantas is limiting the number of bags, not just the total weight of the bags – and the limits are pretty tough.

Read our full breakdown of who is (and is not) allowed to have more than one bag.

It's worth noting that Virgin Australia is not limiting customers to one bag; just the traditional 23KG limit with any number of bags.

#9 You can’t change your seat (sort of…)

The Q Card reader at the airport where you check in just requires you to swipe your card, and you’re then checked in. You get a confirming sound and an SMS sent to your phone as proof of successful checkin - but you can’t change your seat, as there’s no screen functionality to allow you to do so.

Qantas says you can go to one of the older style self-checkin kiosk computers to make seat changes, or approach a service desk to get it done.

You can, of course, use advance seat selection at the Qantas website in the manage your booking function.

#10 It may not be as fast and efficient as claimed

First-hand testing by Australian Business Traveller has shown that the speedy check-in promised by Qantas isn't always the case -- the self-serve luggage carousels quite often have trouble reading the electronic bag tag. As a result, check-in helper staff are apparently so fearful for their safety due to angry passengers that they've started having to carry personal panic buttons. 

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About danwarne

Dan is a tech enthusiast who frequently qualifies for enhanced airport security screening due to the number of cords and gadgets stuffed into his cabin bag.

 

Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 7/2/11 by qfulf

The following was PUBLISHED 11 NOV, 2010 by AUSBT

QUOTE:

Qantas does allow a 5KG leeway on top of the 23KG before counter staff have no choice but to charge you an excess fee.) 

UNQUOTE:

As a qantas staff member  I like to advise you that there is no leeway for any baggage weight what so ever over 23Kg's, unless you are a silver/gold/platinum/ or chairmans lounge member or your travel is in business or first class! 

This kind of thing is exactly what gives staff grief at the airport when passengers are misinformed by articles such as yours! 

please ensure your information is correct before you publish articles.

thank you and regards from a Qf staff member

1 on 7/2/11 by danwarne

Thanks for letting us know qfulf. However, the 5KG leeway rule was mentioned to me by a Qantas staff member at a check-in counter, so... who am I to believe?

Admittedly I was a silver frequent flyer when I was told this -- is this policy only available to silvers and above? (That being said, the silver benefits officially give you more baggage allowance anyway...)

1 on 7/2/11 by qfulf

Dan,

23kg baggage limit refers to All non Qf frequent flyers as well as

Bronze level frequent flyers.

Qantas club members and above including silver are allowed extra baggage wgt as per information sent to all Qf members outlining their baggage limitations and other benefits. The staff member telling you about the 5kg leeway was incorrect, I'm sorry to advise. Best regrads and enjoy that flight!

1 on 8/2/11 by danwarne

Thanks for clearing up, QFulf -- appreciate it. I will note it in the story.

2 on 30/3/11 by John L

Quote:

"If you’re a Bronze Frequent Flyer, or (gasp) an ordinary person with no membership, you won’t get the bag tags for free – and you'll still have to stand in line and front up to a (gasp) real person to check your bags."

I used the new Next Gen check-in as a Bronze Frequent Flyer in Melbourne and Perth recently - you do not have to print out your own tags, however even if you have checked in prior you will need to visit a check-in kiosk and it will print you out a luggage tag for you to stick on your bag.  Then you go to the drop-off point, scan your barcode, put the bag on the belt and it's off to security.

Was a little confusing the first time, but once I'd worked it out I'm a fan of the new system.

3 on 13/4/11 by Youanmi

Alot of people who have a Bronze Frequent Flyer or Qantas Club Membership are disgruntled with having to pay $49.95 for the Qantas Q Tags.

What is happening is these people are purchasing the Q tags on ebay at a fraction of the cost. However reading the information from Qantas the original owner / purchaser has their frequent flyer number encrypted on the Q tag and will be contacted by Qantas staff if it is lost. The way I see it Qantas must find a way to enable the frequent flyer number on the Q tag to be changed as it no longer the property of  the original owner.

 

 

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