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Hong Kong International Airport and the associated Airport Express rail link have a great feature that I've used many times: in-town check-in.

For those who don't know about it, the principle is simple:

  • You get to one of the Airport Express stations in town.
  • You perform check-in there.
  • They take your bags and tag them exactly as you would do at the airport, and get them to the airport and onto your flight.
  • You board the train to the airport without any bags
  • You walk directly to exit controls/security, as if you had no bags at all.

I've also done one better:

  • Go the Airport Express station early
  • Drop your bags
  • Exit the station and go eat in a good restaurant of your choice
  • Go back to the station and hop onto the Airport Express

This is especially useful when you have a late flight (many long haul flights from Hong Kong depart around midnight) and would rather have dinner in town at a decent time.

Are there other cities/airports where this service is available?

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  • 1
    Related FlyerTalk thread: flyertalk.com/forum/travelbuzz/…
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 19:52
  • 2
    The Van Nuys FlyAway bus terminal serving LAX was built with in-town check-in in mind, but it never materialized.
    – gparyani
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 7:11
  • 2
    @gparyani I was indeed thinking only about the ability to drop one’s bags (ideally hours in advance) in a location other than the airport and have them take care of getting them to the airport and into the flight. Without checked bags nowadays you can usually do online check-in so you don’t really need a physical location to do so.
    – jcaron
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 7:23
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    @jcaron That's true, but for international travelers, most airlines still require those who've checked in online to go to the counter to have their documents (e.g., visas) checked. A business traveler who has a meeting right before an international flight would want to go to a local ticket office to complete this check before attending their meeting, and then head for the airport and straight to security/exit immigration. Most airlines no longer advertise the ability to check in at a ticket office but still maintain it because business travelers use it.
    – gparyani
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 7:27
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    Shanghai as of about 2011. Probably still. || "I'm sorry sir, you've missed your flight". [Stand on ceremony check in staff 2 minutes after nominal close time.] || 'My bags are on the plane'. - 10 minutes frantic action trying to get my bags OFF the plane. Failed. 'Come this way sir'. Through flight staff security and customs channel. Great fun. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 13:39

1 Answer 1

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Creating a community wiki answer to consolidate the existing answers -- anybody can edit!

Operational

Defunct

  • Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi (BKK): City Air Terminal at Makkasan station
  • London-Heathrow (LHR): Paddington station
  • Madrid (MAD): Nuevos Ministerios station
  • Moscow-Vnukovo (VKO): Kievsky station
  • Tel Aviv (TLV): Tel Aviv-Central station

Seasonal

  • Tel Aviv (TLV): In Tel Aviv and/or Haifa (HFA airport terminal), check seasonal announcements.

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