Your boarding pass on your cell phone

As paper becomes less and less important in the digital age, the paper boarding pass may also be a thing of the past. According to this New York Times article, at least six airlines are already allowing travelers to check in with their mobile devices. Although this check-in process results in a paper boarding pass issued at the ticket window, it saves you from having to print an additional copy beforehand at your home or office.

Currently, Continental Airlines has begun testing a completely paperless boarding pass. The Continental electronic pass allows travelers to pass through security and board the plane without handling any paper at all. Continental sends a bar code to your mobile device and it is then scanned by security and gate agents.

Although I love the idea of paperless boarding pass, I have little faith in the TSA agents actually being up to speed on technological advances. I hope to be proven wrong.

Photo courtesy of USA Today

11 Comments for “Your boarding pass on your cell phone”

  1. posted by Cat on

    I have used Continental’s paperless boarding option at the Houston airport. It works really well as long as you turn the brightness on your phone up all the way. I can’t wait until they roll it out at other airports!

  2. posted by jen on

    I’m with Cat – I’ve been using the paperless mode at Houston’s Intercontinental Airport with Continental Airlines since they launched it and it’s surprisingly easy. I do admit that I still print my pass as a backup for fear that some technical glitch would happen to either mine or their systems. With my frequent travel to Boston, I welcome any advance into a paperless system though!

  3. posted by Pat on

    We’ve had that for 2 years in Japan…

    For the past, I dunno, 4-5 years you can use your phone as a (commuter) train pass and as a e-money card to pay for purchases at participating supermarkets, stores, restaurants and vending machines. Many of those are in/near train stations. The train/transportation channel is so huge here that it’s a no brainer to make something so convenient for commuters. Less stuff to carry – easy to pull out of your pocket when your hands are full of other stuff (bags, umbrella, etc). And it’s really fast to go thru the ticket wicket.

    You wouldn’t believe all the stuff Japanese cell phones can do:
    Whatever you surf the web for – Japanese use their phones, including shopping, banking, paying bills, social websites, coupons to be used at stores…
    There’s a whole new genre of literature – novels on cells phones. One was published in paper form and was a best seller. Oh, and there’s cellphone manga (comics) too.
    Of course still/video camera capabilities and MP3 player. Video phones.

    Parents buy their kids phones with GPS trackers and they have emergency buzzers on them the kid can pull if they get attacked…this has been around for several years too.

    It’s a lot of functionality for one piece of equipment!

  4. posted by Katie on

    I wonder if club card barcodes could be carried around the same way.

  5. posted by Jaime on

    I used the Continental Paperless Boarding pass and was not impressed by the TSA. I walked up and handed my phone to the lady checking IDs. She immediately says “I hate these things” and then tries to use her reader, hit’s the wrong keys so that the thing has to be rebooted (which takes several minutes). Although I had printed my paper boarding pass, by this time I was too annoyed to use it (since it completely defeats the purpose – plus there was no line to annoy).

    I was not at the main terminal, and it was a slow period of the day, so I do plan to give them another chance. But it would be nice if the TSA was as up-to-speed as the airlines on this.

  6. posted by Brooke Browne on

    I’ve been using this for a while and it works well, and surprising everyone knows what to do. Just a pain because my phone screen will go blank while I’m waiting in line and they don’t know how each model works to get it back on.
    It also messed up once when I was close to my flight and it wouldn’t retrieve it.

  7. posted by Cyrano on

    @Katie – Agreed! If they let me use my phone as a club card or member’s discount card, it would free up all the stuff on my keychain and wallet.

    I know about “Just One Club Card”, but one place wouldn’t accept it and another gave me a hard time about it, so I gave up on it.

  8. posted by tay on

    That is awesome. I wish the U.S. was as up to date with technology as other parts of the world. You would think there would a faster push towards that considering the technology has already been developed and that we are on the go green kick here in the States.

    Although, I will admit that I would be a little freaked out about the possible ramifications if I, once again, lose my cell phone and it ends up in the wrong hand. But I guess that’s the case with anything. I could very well lose my wallet. 😉

  9. posted by @Tay on

    Yup! That’s why I personally am not using the e-cash function – dang, I lose my phone all the time! They do have security codes you can set. But if you forgot to lock your phone…aiyiee.

    There’s 3rd party software that you buy to download your data onto a desktop in case you lose your phone. Docomo now offers an auto back up system for 300 yen a month – backs up all your files remotely.

    Many, many Japanese do not own a PC at all. If you live in a closet sized apartment, it is the ultimate decluttering solution. They do everything – everything – on their phones.
    ‘Course their monthly bills are outrageous.

  10. posted by Alan on

    I think the US is playing catch-up on this, but maybe due to zealous security concerns. In major airports in Canada, both Air Canada and WestJet have been doing this for well over a year now. And it’s not in “beta”. It is a normal part of their offer at most major airports.

  11. posted by Kurt C. on

    Relying on an electronic device to get on a plane seems way to risky for me. Phones lock up. Batteries die.

    As much of an environmentalist as I am, I still would much rather be able to do a spot check, and make sure I have a printout of my e-ticket than have it on my phone.

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