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On November 17, JetBlue threw two parties. The first was at JFK’s Terminal 5, just before 9am, with cupcakes, coffee, smoothies, and a three-man steel band. The second was six hours later in Liberia, Costa Rica, marking the airline’s inaugural flight to the capital of the Guanacaste province, JetBlue’s second Costa Rican destination and 68th overall. That party was co-hosted by the Costa Rican minister of tourism, and started with water cannons over the A320’s fuselage, followed by three men on a marimba, a woman feistily playing a donkey jaw, and six youthful dancers in national dress, featuring lots of flouncy skirts and sashes. To promote the new four-times-weekly flight, the only non-stop to Costa Rica from JFK, one-way fares through February 15 are $119 for tickets bought by November 30, and surfboard surcharges are waived through December 17. (Catching wind of JetBlue’s plans, Continental launched its own daily directs from Newark one week before, but without the donkey-jaw, dancing, or promotions.)
American Airlines and Air Canada are in talks with the TSA regarding the launch of a trial program that would allow passengers to print and tag their own luggage for the first time in the U.S. The trial, if approved, would debut at Logan International Airport in Boston, and airlines are hoping to give it a whirl ahead of height of the busy holiday season. During the check-in process, customers would be able to print tags from a self-service kiosk and affix them to their own bags. An airline agent would then check IDs, scan the bar code, and place the luggage on a conveyor belt. In the future, airlines hope to fully automate the luggage tagging process.
According to airlines, the self-tagging procedures will not affect security since bags are scanned for explosives behind the scenes by the TSA. In fact, self-tagging is already common in some foreign airports. According to the International Air Transport Association, 32 airlines worldwide allow self-tagging. In Amsterdam and Stockholm, passengers print tags and drop off bags without ever having to see an agent.
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