When I went to Sydney yesterday I noticed that the check in counters in the domestic terminal (terminal 3) were distinctly free of airline people. Web checkins and the Qantas 'check yourself in ' machines seem to have totally killed the role of the checkin operative, apart from a few people on the bag drop counters and to deal with the odd luddite.
(And so it was in Europe this summer. The only reason (apart from not having a printer with us) we did real checkins with Ryanair and EasyJet was having bags with us. Elsewise we'd have used the checkin machines ...)