“This is not a boarding pass. Please proceed to Document Check counter” on my web boarding pass glared back at me on my screen. Why, oh why? As a frequent flyer, self check-in online is my best buddy – press here, click there, tada, I get my boarding pass which allows me to skip the queue at the airport counter. It has been working fine in the past few years, until the past 1 month or so. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”, I pondered.
Flashback to two weeks ago, I checked in on AirAsia website, but my boarding pass has this horrible “This is not a boarding pass” in bright red printed on the top right of the document. Coincidentally, BF and my sis were also traveling in and out of KL, different travel dates/booking and also having the same notes printed on their boarding pass – at least, that gave me assurance that I am not being “picked on”.
For BF and I, we only had to verify our travel documents at our origin country – for example, as a Malaysian flying out from KL to Bangkok, and then back to KL, document check only took place at KLIA2. Vice-versa for a Thai flying out from Bangkok, document check only took place at Don Mueang International Airport.
However, for my sis’ family, document check is required in both KL and Bangkok. The only point of difference is their booking has check-in luggage, versus BF and mine .. could this be the reason?
If you have checked baggage, you might encounter the same error message as my sis did, when you check-in online. After she has completed the check-in process, she didn’t manage to get boarding pass like usual – there was a message stating “We can’t check you in now because we need extra information from your travel documents. Just check-in at the airport 3 hours before your flight and we’ll sort it out there. As a reminder, please ensure that you have fulfilled your destination’s entry requirements.”
As this booking is for a family of four, including young children – we wanted to make sure that the check-in process is completed early to secure seats close to each other. Logging back to the Check-in page, it states that “all guest(s) have checked-in.” So, I guess the “error” message is misleading; they should just say that document check is required at the airport. So, we tried the “reprint boarding pass” option, and voila, we got the boarding passes with “document check” printed on it.
At KLIA2, proceed to the Baggage Drop counter if you have checked baggage, and document check will be done simultaneously at the same counter. For passengers without checked baggage, proceed to the Document Check counter. Do note that both Baggage Drop and Document Check counters close 1 hour before departure.
According to AirAsia KLIA2 Departure Guide, the dedicated Document Check counters are T1, U1 and V1. When I was there few days ago, only Counter V1 was in operation for document check. There is a sign stating that Counter Vs are used for flights to Vietnam. Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore. I walked around to Counter T1 and U1, and found that these counters were closed. Counter Ts are for flights to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and USA, and Counter Us at that time only serve flights to Indonesia.
So far, I’ve personally went through the document verification process twice. The first time, it took me less than 1 minute on a weekday afternoon. One week later, it took me 8 minutes as there were quite a lot of passengers. I showed my passport and printed boarding pass, in exchange for a paper boarding pass.
Since AirAsia charge a fee for counter check-in and reprint of boarding pass, I thought the additional document check/issuing paper ticket doesn’t make financial sense. That will cost staff time and paper cost to the airline, no?
So, a little bit of reading and I found out that incorrectly documented passengers cost airlines – they get fines and they also need to send the passenger back, at their own costs. Read more about it here. Now, that sounds about right – in the grand scheme of things, the inconvenience to passengers and additional paper costs are like a drop of pebble in the water, don’t you reckon?
Update November 2017:
Just done web check-in, and document check is no longer required for whatever reason.