Automatic Airport Check-In Is Patented?

from the but-why? dept

I’ve been flying a lot over the past few years, and it’s become pretty standard for airlines to now have self-serve kiosks where you can check in and print out a boarding pass. If you have a bag to check, you then take it to a “bag drop” station. There are fewer and fewer places where this isn’t the norm — but apparently Alaska Airlines owns a patent on the process. The company says it got the patent to “reward the employees” who came up with the idea, but that doesn’t make much sense. As William Stepp points out in the link above, wouldn’t Alaska Airlines have been better off not spending all that money filing a patent. In fact, if they wanted to reward the employees who came up with the idea, why not just give the money wasted on the patent filing to the employees?

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Companies: alaska airlines

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Comments on “Automatic Airport Check-In Is Patented?”

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Duh says:

Patentable - sure wtfn

Letsee – we have automatic ticketing & baggage for trains, and ferries – automatic ticketing for all kinds of events – even taxis and subways (without baggage).

So what do you do? Do you say – “Let’s make a copy of the way other carriers do this, say it’s different because the vehicle is shiny and flies – and say therefore that it’s unique and patent it?” The WSJ (short) article said the idea was unconventional but included nothing to suggest it was ‘novel.’

spencermatthewp says:

Alaska's Patent

I know that for those of you on the east coast, you think that Delta or someone else may be the pioneers of aviation. In te Pacific northwest, we know better.

Alaska Airlines, simply due to the remote nature of some of it’s destinations, has been on the forefront of technology for commercial airlines for a very long time. Did you know that Alaska is the only airline to successfully land a plane with true zero visibility? They did it using a system they invented.

The web/kisok checkin that Alaska created was jeered by all the airlines that now use a similar system. It was at the dawn of the internet age, and debuted at Sea-Tac International Airport (Seattle, WA) Alaska’s hub.

It is interesting that despite how much most of you protest the patent system, this type of system has become so prolific despite the patent. Maybe a patent does not kill innovation after all. Maybe it is the enforcement by companies that think the only way to make money from the patent is a law suit to prevent others from using it. (Not to say that Alaska is not licensing the technology at a reasonable price to other airlines.)

Oh and by the way — Alaska airline treats their employees very well, you can easily tell by the level of service you receive compared to other airlines. I have never not been greeted with a smile, and I always feel well taken care of on an Alaska flight. (And yes, I have flown several other airlines, None of them even come close)

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Alaska's Patent

It is interesting that despite how much most of you protest the patent system, this type of system has become so prolific despite the patent. Maybe a patent does not kill innovation after all.

Never said that patents *kill* all innovation, but they do hinder innovation. In other words, the spread of this offering appears to have happened *in spite* of the patent, not because of it. Without the patent, the concept would still have spread, so how can you say that the spread is due to the patent?

Patenting other common practices says:

How I make money

I’ve got a couple patents on picking up a suitcase and placing it in a trunk.

There is the one handed grab, lift and drop into the trunk, the two-handed grab, lift and drop into the trunk and the leave it by the curb and let the taxi driver load it technique (one-handed and two-handed, of course).

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