In a precursor to what will become the norm in the near future, a Seattle-based airline now allows customers to bypass the ticket counter and check luggage themselves, according to The Seattle Times. It and other airlines are reportedly working towards simplifying the check-in process in other ways as well, from providing automated boarding passes to using Internet-based e-ticketing. The Federal Aviation Administration is also examining ways to make security checks more efficient and passengers will someday walk through a scanner with their check-in baggage. Travel further for free, from your armchair A new Web site has been launched which will be of interest to frequent fliers. FreeAirMiles.com has prepared a site where members can earn frequent-flyer miles without leaving their chairs. The points can be earned simply by surfing the Web and visiting participating advertisers. Members of the site can log in, visit advertisers and earn 10 frequent flyer-miles for doing so. They can do this up to 10 times a day for a maximum of 100 miles per day. There is no purchase needed or surveys to respond to. However, members must fill out a demographic questionnaire, allowing for highly targeted advertising campaigns. At present, the site is only taking pre-registration details but will be fully launched later on. Anyone from any airline can sign up now but points are only awarded by a limited number of carriers until the site grows. Find the site at www.freeairmiles.com . US airlines up ante on lost luggage Northwest Airlines and other US carriers have increased the limit they will pay for lost luggage from US$1,250 to $2,500. The change is effective from January 18. Northwest also says it has streamlined its lost luggage tracing procedure based on different methods which are put into place from one hour after the baggage goes missing onwards. More details are available at www.nwa.com . Personal touch in Christmas absence For the executive away from their family this Christmas, there are plenty of options to keep in touch via the Web, and even send a little something special on the day. Aside of the many e-greeting cards and sites offering to send e-messages, there is www.Santa.com which offers Christmas gifts and cards, plus www.picantecorp.com which sends children an e-mail message from Santa, once a template 'child's wish list' for the big day has been filled out. Meanwhile, www.LiQ.com allows shoppers to bring products into private chat rooms to show family members or friends so they can make decisions together. Webcertificate.com offers virtual gift certificates for redemption at more than one million on-line retailers, while www.giftvoucher.com.au , www.GiftCertificates.com , www.citiwallet.com , www.Amazon.com,www.toysmart.com , www.KBKids.com and www.markfoys.com are worth visiting for gifts.