The system is far from perfected -- you can't do everything online and go straight to the gate -- but it does chip away at the time spent checking in.
''We're just trying to find new ways to help our customers save time," said Brandon Hamm, the spokesman for JetBlue.
More than three out of four JetBlue customers book their travel online; about a third check in at the electronic kiosks at the airport; and 15 percent check in online.
JetBlue's online baggage check-in is a slight modification to the online check-in procedures that have been around for several years. Most airlines allow their passengers to print out their boarding passes at home and head straight to their departure gate if they do not have baggage.
If a passenger is checking bags, he or she typically has to obtain a boarding pass at one of the airline's electronic kiosks and then hand the bags over to an agent, who is usually covering several terminals. The agent checks the passenger's identification, tags the bags, and provides the bag-tag numbers to the passenger.
JetBlue is now allowing passengers to skip the visit to the kiosk if they print out their boarding passes with bag-tag numbers on them at home.
Passengers still have to drop off their bags at the counter and get them tagged, but online baggage check-in removes one step in the process, saving a traveler about 20 seconds, Jet Blue officials said.
Online baggage check-in, if it catches on, also could be a way for JetBlue to handle more passengers without adding more electronic kiosks.
JetBlue has customer service lines dedicated for baggage drop-off, but at Boston's Logan International Airport, those lines are not only for people who have checked in online. They are also used by people who check in at the electronic kiosks, which are clustered several feet away from the customer service counter.
Most other airlines put their electronic kiosks at the counters. United, for example, offers kiosk/counters for passengers both with and without bags.
At John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, JetBlue is experimenting with two baggage drop-off areas, one inside at the counters and one at curbside. With the curbside option, a passenger could drop off his bag, have his identity verified, and head straight for the gate.
''If that proves to be successful, we will probably begin to roll it out to more of our cities," Hamm said.
To promote the new service, JetBlue is giving frequent flier credits to customers who purchase tickets and check in online.
Everyone wants to be home for the holidays (or says they do), but a poll conducted by Expedia.com indicates some travelers would prefer to be at a hotel close to home.
The poll, by
Of those adults who stay with relatives at the holidays, 39 percent said having more space or privacy would make it more enjoyable.
Of those adults hosting relatives at their homes, 80 percent said they enjoyed it, but 49 percent said it created a lot of stress and 36 percent said they would like to ship the relatives off to a hotel for a portion of their stay.
Contact Bruce Mohl at firstname.lastname@example.org.