Airlines ordered to end paid-for priority check-ins

By Doan Loan   July 20, 2022 | 05:00 am PT
Airlines ordered to end paid-for priority check-ins
People line up for check-in procedures at HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Airlines have stopped charging customers for the controversial "quick check-in" services starting Wednesday on orders from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).

Dinh Viet Son, deputy head of the CAAV, said that while the law doesn’t ban businesses from providing services to prioritize certain customers, the practice of charging extra fees for quick check-in procedures may negatively affect customer service quality, customers' interests and generate negative social sentiments.

The practice had indeed provoked public outrage that was expressed on social media, but Son cited other problems as well.

He explained that the "quick check-in" services were also problematic because the carriers already had priority policies for VIP customers. If a customer with an economy class ticket pays for the quick check-in services, he/she would enjoy the same quality service as business class customers, depriving the latter of the extra benefits they are entitled to for the money they've paid.

More importantly, the extra-fast service for some people cannot resolve congestion issues at the airports, as all customers still have to go through available security checkpoints.

Son said check-in procedures are part of an airport's commercial services provided in accordance with regulations issued by the Ministry of Transport. Any adjustment to these services needs to be reported to the CAAV before they are put into practice, he added.

Right now, the CAAV has deployed several measures to deal with flight delays and congestion issues at the airport, including the upgrade of airport infrastructure and service quality.

Certain carriers like Vietjet and Bamboo Airways have been charging passengers up to VND140,000 ($5.97) for quick check-in at Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport, sparking concerns of discrimination. These services are only available at check-in booths operated by the carriers themselves, not at ordinary security checkpoints.

Some passengers have protested this practice at the airports, saying it was discriminatory and promoting inequality.

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