Resort Airline Check-In is the popular service that allows guests the convenience of checking their bags through to their final destination before leaving their hotel. With the addition of Southwest Airlines to the service, more than 90% of domestic passengers who depart Central Florida for Orlando International Airport will have Resort Airline Check-In service available to them at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels.
According to Orlando International Airport, nearly one of every four guests who flies into the airport arrives on Southwest Airlines. Many Southwest passengers already use Disney’s Magical Express service for transport to and from the airport. Since guests flying on Southwest Airlines no longer need to carry their own luggage through the airport and may go directly to security check, Resort Airline Check-In could help reduce terminal traffic and reduce wait times at Orlando International Airport.
Disney and Southwest launched a pilot program at Disney’s Pop Century Resort and Disney’s All-Star Resorts to test the impact of Southwest’s baggage on the Resort Airline Check-In program.
“The testing proved to be very smooth, seamless progression,” according to Steve Schreiber, general manger of Disney’s All-Star Resort. “Luggage handling is not the most fun part of a guest’s vacation. When the worry of luggage is no longer a concern, guests can spend a longer time enjoying their vacation, rather than trying to manage luggage.”
Since March 9, Resort Airline Check-In with Southwest Airlines has been gradually rolled out to all but two Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, culminating with the addition of Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa the week of April 6.
Upon completion of a construction project at Disney’s Old Key West Resort and an assessment at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, Resort Airline Check-In with Southwest Airlines should be available at every Walt Disney World Resort hotel by the end of 2010.
About a month ago, Disney’s Magical Express instituted a new check-in procedure for guests arriving at Orlando International Airport and making use of the service for those staying at a Disney owned and operated resort.
Guests who have their blue DME booklet in hand and have attached the yellow tags to their checked bags (or have no checked bags for DME to claim) are able to proceed directly to the bus waiting area, bypassing the welcome desk altogether which used to be mandatory for everyone. Instead, eligible guests will now have their voucher scanned at a podium at the front of the bus queues.
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Southwest Airlines is now piloting the Resort Airline Check-in service at Walt Disney World’s Pop Century resort.
It’s been a major source of confusion which continues to persist today as much as it has since the inception of Disney’s Magical Express in 2005: it is often thought that as a non-participating airline, that guests flying into MCO on SWA can not take advantage of amenities such as the luggage delivery service aspect of DME.
This is completely untrue however, as Disney’s Magical Express and Resort Airline Check-in are two mutually exclusive services, although they are marketed together. Every guest arriving at Orlando International Airport (which includes international flights) and staying on-site at a Disney owned and operated resort can take full advantage of Disney’s Magical Express, both the ground transportation and the in-room luggage delivery service, regardless of airline. The difference comes when departing the resort, where only those flying domestically on a participating airline are able to check-in for the flight directly at their resort so they receive their boarding pass and check their bags so they don’t have to be dealt with again until arriving at the home airport (additional restrictions apply).
The news means that those staying at Pop Century and flying on Southwest Airlines can now take advantage of the piloted Resort Airline Check-in for a limited time. The program began yesterday and does not have an ending date as of yet, although a Disney Magical Express representative told us it would only be available for a ‘short period of time.’
Also unknown is how this will affect the boarding procedures of those flying Southwest. As the airline does not offer assigned seats and boards its passengers in groups that are determined at time of check-in, checking in at the near 24-hour mark has become an almost obsession with many Southwest travelers. While the DME representative was quite certain that guests will no longer be able to check-in online (or by phone) ahead of time and continue to use the Resort Airline Check-in which only allows guests to check in 3-12 hours prior to flight, a Southwest representative was insistent that the Resort Airline Check-in desk would have no problem with guests checking in ahead of time and that boarding passes would be issued with the original boarding group retained.
The Orlando Sentinel reports all the nitty gritty in this article that covers a re-negotiated deal that heavily favors Disney who once had to prove to OIA that its free transportation program had merit.
A couple of recent changes that shouldn’t affect most guests have been introduced to the Disney’s Magical Express service, presumably as a cost saving measure. Read more…