Ukraine International Airlines Adds Boarding Pass Fee On Longhaul Flights

Filed Under: Ukraine

Last October, Ukraine International Airlines started charging passengers to print boarding passes at the airport. At the time, economy passengers on domestic and medium-haul international flights who got their boarding passes from the check-in counter were charged a fee of 10EUR per person.

At the time UIA’s Corporate Press Secretary described this as follows:

“We at UIA adopted passenger handling optimization and automation program. Digitalization of the UIA handling procedures empowers us to cut expenditures for check-in counters’ maintenance and services of handling staff at our base and off-base airports. The latter opens doors for cutting tickets fares. We hope our clients will soon get used to checking-in online, appreciate our service speed and convenience, and, therefore, spend less time on pre-flight formalities”.

Charging for a boarding pass at check-in is something we’ve seen from some ultra low cost carriers, though it’s interesting to see that from a full service airline (not that UIA is the world’s most premium airline, but they do offer free food and drinks, as well as free checked bags, in economy).

The airline is now taking this policy even further in two ways:

  • As of June 15, 2018, Ukraine International Airlines is increasing their boarding pass fee from 10EUR to 15EUR
  • As of August 1, 2018, Ukraine International Airlines will charge passengers a fee to print a boarding pass on all flights, including longhaul ones

That means that if you fly UIA to/from New York (a flight I took last month) in economy, you’d have to pay 15EUR to print your boarding pass.

This is an interesting tactic for the airline to take. While UIA has some of the most attractive transatlantic fares (in both economy and business class), that doesn’t make them an ultra low cost carrier. For that matter, I can’t think of any airline that charges to print boarding passes on longhaul flights (though there might be some I’m just not thinking of).

It’s one thing if UIA had great technology, but when I flew them out of JFK last month, I wasn’t able to check-in online, so that wasn’t even an option for me.

I’ll be curious to see how successful they are with charging this on longhaul flights, as I imagine they’ll get quite a bit of pushback.

(Tip of the hat to Hans Mast)

  1. I thought that UIA had great technology when I flew them. The mobile boarding pass worked perfectly and at Kiev the self service bag drop off was simple and quick. I normally don’t like the whole do it yourself thing but I think UIA have perfected it (at least at Kiev). Also, 12 hours before my flight I was automatically checked in and they sent me a boarding pass via email, it contained a PDF copy and also an Apple Wallet copy.

  2. I think if you need a visa to enter the US then you wouldn’t be able to get a boarding pass for a flight to the US printed, as airlines (at least in my experience) won’t even let you check in.

  3. Mobile boarding pass works well ex-KBP and Ukrainian airports, at least in 10 stations outside of Ukraine it didn’t worked and experience varies from : no problem to print one or need to argue but problem solved.

    Anyway those rules does not apply to business class (except upgrade with miles) as I remember. Business class pax can check in without mobile boarding pass.

    I agree prices are ok, but service is low cost and catering is disgusting, not fresh and wine list is poor to really bad. I Fly with them when no choice… and they are a pain (transit in KBP evening time is just a nightmare, no fast track).

  4. @lovetospendit,
    You can get a boarding for free for any premium economy or business class ticket even if its booked/upgraded with miles.

  5. @brad : this is quite new, they used to get the worst IT ever… I have even seen paper boarding pass in Kiev few years ago on a regular basis because of how poor was their IT. Now they are at international standards and use the industry standards tools and providers. But again, even with their new 777 flying with them is really a pain and it’s a choice if no other option imho… delays are the rule, missed connections too, poor recognition of their elite and business pax, poor support in case of delay, crappy hotels when provided, poor to horrible F&B, KBP is a nightmare hub in my opinion, lounge is crappy (only good point is the smoking area), etc etc etc.

    My rule with them : no more than 2 or something flight (KBP – IST for exemple) but as they don’t even offer fast track in IST for business class, I avoid them and prefer TK on this route.

  6. I wonder how this will work for UIA flights from PEK… When I’ve flown before from PEK on international flights, they require all pax to change their printed boarding passes/mobile boarding passes to those printed at check in desks… I wonder if everyone will then have to go to check in desks to change their boarding passes if not with check in luggage…

  7. If the goal is as stated, “…appreciate our service speed and convenience, and, therefore, spend less time on pre-flight formalities.” Then this policy seems to be a deflection from the goal.

    Id be curious if the boarding pass is available from a kiosk where the fee is also processed. If so, how would this relieve additional time of agents to provide better service speed.

    If the boarding pass is provided by an agent who must now also collect a fee, isn’t this reducing available time to give great service?

  8. This is so dumb. Sometimes people cannot check online due to the need of a visa check, so it doesn’t make sense to add this fee for long haul flights. I assume Ukraine citizens need a visa to enter US. I hope I never have to fly this stupid airline.

  9. Jeff Shilling – Not necessarily. The majority of people will print their own so it should offset the increased time taking payment from those who don’t.

  10. I flew them a couple of weeks ago and could check in in business class a few days in advance but economy on the return only 48 hours prior. Bag drop in Kiev was alright. I skipped the kiosks and went to the machines by the bag drop. Much easier. People reasonably helpful (for ukraonians ha!)

  11. Correction: they are not a full-service airline, at least in economy around Europe. They only serve water, and that’s it.
    Still, better than the likes of Air Serbia, that serve nothing in economy, not even water.

  12. Supposedly they have automatic online check-in
    So even if you do NOT do anything, you will still get your boarding pass emailed to you (within 24 fours before the departure ?)

    You can manually check-in online if you want to change your seat.
    PS I haven’t actually tested this system, so i cant say how does it work in real life

  13. How do full service airlines that offer free checked bags on long haul routes save money by asking customers to check in online and then line up at normal, staffed luggage drop counter? Might as well have the person staffing the luggage drop counter do the check in process anyway. UNLESS they also invest in advanced sensor technology that can read luggage tag (like Qantas has in major Australian airports) thereby allowing customers not to have ANY interaction whatsoever with check in staffs.

  14. I flew out of Norway a few years ago after a storm had disrupted the power the night before. KLM couldn’t get the computers working before the boarding, so the gate agent just wrote our boarding passes by hand on a piece of scrap paper :), for free! haha.

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