(written by Christine)
Airports always are entertaining and somewhat of a rush. It seems that people either have too much time to spare, or are in a hurry running to catch their plane. However, nobody will reach their destination without the coveted boarding pass. This past weekend I traveled on an airplane to Atlanta for a business conference. I fumbled around in my purse to grab my boarding pass three separate times (bag check, security, and boarding gate). By the time I was sitting in the plane this important piece of paper was a crumpled piece of nothing—but what I realized coming home is that it didn’t have to be this way.
Leaving the Atlanta airport I saw a man walk up to security and swipe his iPhone (which was already in his hand) on a scanner taking 3 seconds to proceed. I waited for the guard to verify and scribble on my boarding pass for seconds longer, curious to why the man blew right pass me and only showed his ID. I asked what he did and the guard said, “Digital boarding pass.” BINGO! Welcome to the future of air travel.
In 2007 Continental Airlines started testing what was then a new technology: allowing passengers to receive an electronic boarding pass on their phones. Four years later, it is finally gaining traction. With a growing number of travelers carrying smartphones, such as myself and the rest of the Stellar Crew, the era of paperless boarding passes may have finally arrived.
According to the Transport Security Administration, “The paperless boarding pass pilot enables passengers to download their boarding pass on their cell phones or personal digital assistants. This innovative approach streamlines the customer experience while heightening the ability to detect fraudulent boarding passes. Each paperless boarding pass is displayed as an encrypted two-dimensional bar code along with passenger and flight information.”
As of March 2012, the boarding pass pilot was operating at 110 U.S. airports with nine airlines: Alaska, American, British Airways, Continental, Delta, Lufthansa, United, US Airways, and Virgin America.
“We’re becoming a much more digital society,” said David Staas of JiWire, a mobile media channel that works with many airports. “So using smartphones for paperless boarding just completes the circle.”
Most carriers offer two ways to get an e-boarding pass: you can choose to have one sent to your mobile device (via e-mail or text message) when you check in online, or you can use an airline app to check in and your boarding pass will appear within the application. When you get to the airport, simply display the boarding pass bar code on your screen to be scanned when needed.
Smartphone apps and digital everything is more than a movement, it’s a future lifestyle and custom. We’re starting to see it every day. Our phones are glued to our hands and the convenience of apps, particularly a boarding pass app, makes “traveling” through life easier.