JetBlue says flyers can check in to flights early by printing or downloading boarding passes

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NEW YORK — JetBlue Airways is offering free automated check-in for its customers.

The airline said travelers will get an email with ready-to-print boarding pass and an option to download a mobile boarding pass 24 hours before their flight. The company said this will make it easier to find inconsistencies and problems with special service requests, giving it more time to fix any problems.

Southwest Airlines Co. started offering its "early bird" check in service in September 2009. Travelers can get early boarding positions for $10 on a one-way flight.

Early check-ins are useful for airlines because they encourage passengers to show up on time, which helps the flight board and depart on time. The airline gets an early clue on whether it will need to bump passengers if the flight is oversold or whether there will be upgrades to sell or give away.

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