European budget airline EasyJet is to close all its airport check-in desks, in an attempt to encourage more passengers to check in online.
The desks will be replaced by bag-drop desks, for those flyers wishing to travel with checked luggage, from April 30.
Passengers who forget to check in online will still be able to do so at the airport free of charge, but it is hoped the facility will only be used in "exceptional circumstances."
Low-cost rival Ryanair abolished check-in desks in 2009 and currently charges passengers £70 ($A102) per person at the airport if they don't check in online, or if they fail to print out their boarding pass. Last year a British woman, Suzy McLeod, received the backing of more than half a million Facebook users after she was charged £240 (the fee at the time was £60 per person) at Alicante airport after she forgot to print out four boarding passes. Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary responded in typically confrontational style, branding Ms McLeod "stupid".
An EasyJet spokesman said an unspecified "transition period" would give passengers time to adapt to the new policy, but claimed that no plans were in place to charge a similar fee if they forget to check in online, or to print their boarding pass.
"We try to be a bit more customer friendly than Ryanair, and hope passengers choose to check-in online without the threat of punitive charges," said a spokesman.
"EasyJet is always looking to make travel easier and more affordable. Online check in has proved popular with passengers, for whom it saves time queuing at the airport, and has helped easyJet keep its costs, and therefore its fares, low."
He added that 80 per cent of passengers already choose to check in online, and that the move was aimed at making the airport journey quicker for all.
EasyJet passengers can check in online up to 30 days before they fly. They are currently permitted to travel with one piece on hand luggage, no bigger than 56 x 45 x 25cm. It charges customers £25 to travel with a single piece of hold baggage.
- The Telegraph, London