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American debuts faster check-in system for international first-class, other travelers at O’Hare

PDavis helps SandrCagan her husbJeffrey check for their flight American Airlines' new check lounge. |  Meenakshi Dalal~Sun-Times

Pat Davis helps Sandra Cagan and her husband Jeffrey check in for their flight in American Airlines' new check in lounge. | Meenakshi Dalal~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 18, 2013 6:24PM

A new check-in process for American Airlines’ international first-class and other elite customers made its debut Thursday in Terminal 3 at O’Hare International Airport. The check-in takes place in a private room and gives those passengers access to the front of the TSA security line.

Sandra Cagan, 47, and her husband Jeffrey, 61, of Evanston, heading to Milan on a 10-day vacation, were among the first 100 customers to try the new system, called “Flagship Check-In.” The couple walked up to a podium manned by an American Airlines agent and had their names checked off a list before waltzing through the automatic frosted glass doors.

“When you fly frequently it’s nice when the airline recognizes that you are their bread and butter,” said Sandra Cagan.

The room is painted white, with three podiums for check-ins. There’s also a self-check-in kiosk available. In front of the podiums are four lounge chairs and a screen displaying departure times.

“It’s exactly the same process, there’s just a little more of a personal touch,” said staff assistant Pat Davis, who handled the Cagans’ check-in.

“We expect to be busy in here, but I don’t know that there will be a line. There’ll just be a natural flow of people in and out,” said Mary Frances Fagan, director of corporate communications for the airline.

After checking in, the customer goes through another sliding door that puts them at the front of the security line.

American Airlines officials declined to comment on how much the area cost to build, and how much it costs to run. The space the check-in center now occupies used to consist of back work areas and regular check in counters.

This check-in process is already in use at the Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport and the John F. Kennedy International Airport, in New York. A fifth location will open at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport later this year, officials said.

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