11:32 PM EDT, August 15, 2013
The guest-services kiosk at Fashion Outlets Chicago, the gargantuan new high-end outlet mall near O'Hare International Airport, rents strollers, wraps gifts, changes currency and can even get your clothes dry-cleaned within 24 hours. But its unlikeliest service also is one of the most convenient imaginable: It will check bags for flights on any of five airlines and print your boarding pass.
Provided everything goes right, you next see your bags in the baggage claim at your destination.
The manager of the service, provided by Florida-based Bags Inc., Nicole Deckert, said the company believes it is the only mall in the United States to provide such a service. (For example, a spokesman at the Mall of America, connected by rail to the Twin Cities' airport, said it does not provide the service.)
"This is the first venture like this in a mall in the nation," Deckert said. "So far it's soaring."
(Pun somewhat intended, she said.)
The cost is $15 per customer (with no limit on bags), plus an airline's standard baggage fees. Partner airlines are United, American, JetBlue, Alaska and US Airways.
After presenting itinerary and identification at the desk, baggage is weighed on an airport-certified scale, tagged and taken to a locked room down the hall, just past the Gap Factory Store. The 12 staff members at the kiosk have been trained by O'Hare as certified baggage handlers, Deckert said.
Making things even easier, a shuttle operates between the mall and O'Hare several times a day. The shuttle ride takes 15 to 30 minutes, "depending on traffic," Deckert said. Cost is $10 for one passenger and $5 for each additional passenger. (Children 5 and younger are free; check goairportshuttle.com for more information, including specific departure times.)
The kiosk is mere feet from a Samsonite luggage store, which leads to a prime opportunity for shoppers: buying enough stuff to fill a new suitcase that they then check at the mall. It hasn't happened yet.
"But I'm waiting for it," Deckert said.
Remote check-in is available at the guest-services kiosk at Fashion Outlets Chicago (5220 Fashion Outlets Way, Rosemont, 847-928-7500, fashionoutlets.com) 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
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