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20 2011

Mobile Moves into the Airlines

Posted in Mobile Boarding Passes | 0 comments

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mobile boarding passes

Mobile Moves into the Airlines

What do you think of mobile boarding passes?  While just a few years this was unheard of, now showing your ticket on yourmobile phone has become commonplace.  This is just further proof that the mobileuniverse is here to stay.

An article from Susan Stellin of the New York Times, tells the story:

“In 2007 Continental Airlines started testing what was then a novel technology: allowing passengers to receive an electronic boarding pass on their mobile phones. Four years later, it is finally gaining traction.

Now most of the major carriers offer mobile boarding passes at many airports in the United States and some abroad. With a growing number of travelers carrying smartphones, the era of paperless boarding may have finally arrived.

It’s not yet a foolproof way to travel, however. Here’s a look at e-boarding:

Who offers it?

American, Delta, Continental and United are the biggest e-boarding champions, offering this option to travelers departing from at least 75 airports. Alaska Airlines has introduced it at about 50 airports, and US Airways in nearly 20 cities. JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin America have not yet embraced mobile boarding.

The airlines list e-boarding cities on their websites — mostly cities with larger airports — but small airports are getting on board as the Transportation Security Administration and the airlines install equipment to scan travelers’ handheld devices. When you check in, you’ll see the mobile boarding-pass option only if it’s available for your departure city — and your stopover city, if you’re making a connection.

How it works

Most carriers offer two ways to get an e-boarding pass: Have one sent to your mobile device (via email or text message) when you check in online, or use an airline app to check in and your boarding pass will appear within the application. The airlines say this option works with most Web-enabled smartphones and iPads, but if your device is finicky stick with a paper boarding pass.

When you get to the airport, you’ll have to navigate through your email or the airline app to display the boarding-pass bar code on your screen so it can be scanned by a security agent and then again at your gate.

Some travelers find that security or airline staff members still get flustered — or annoyed — by the technology.

Robert Costello, a Delta frequent flier who often uses e-boarding passes, said he once had to walk to a different security checkpoint because the boarding-pass reader wasn’t working at his lane, but he and other travelers say these glitches have tapered off as the technology has become more widespread.

He also suggested a way to avoid navigating through an email folder or app to retrieve your boarding pass, which can be slow if there’s a poor cell signal: Use your phone to take a picture of the boarding pass screen ahead of time and show that image instead.

“On an iPhone, it’s just a matter of pushing the button at the top of the phone and the home button together,” he said. “I’ve found if I have a picture, that’s the fastest thing.” (Check your manual for information on how to do that with other smartphones.)

Pros and cons

Costello said he prefers e-boarding passes because his phone is always at hand, whereas he used to have to rummage around in his pockets or bag to find a paper boarding pass, which is also more likely to get wrinkled or lost.

Another advantage of the electronic option is that travelers don’t always have access to a printer, so choosing a mobile boarding pass eliminates the hassle of stopping at a kiosk at the airport. However minimally, it also eliminates paper from the garbage stream.

The most obvious risk with mobile boarding is that if your phone’s battery dies or there are any problems reading your e-boarding pass, you’ll have to print one at a kiosk or ticket counter, and that could delay your trip if you’re running late. (Carry a charger with you in case your battery runs out.)

Using a mobile boarding pass can also be a challenge if you’re traveling with multiple people in one reservation. US Airways and Continental offer e-boarding only if there’s one person in the reservation; with other airlines, each person can check in online and have a boarding pass sent to his or her phone. But most airline apps don’t handle multiple boarding passes, and even when it’s possible, it can take some juggling to manage several passes on one device.

Some travelers have had trouble getting credit for missing frequent-flier miles without having a printed boarding pass to prove they were on a flight. Save a digital copy of your e-boarding pass (especially if you check in using an app, because the pass typically disappears after your flight), or print a copy as a backup.”

To see the original article on mobile boarding passes

Mobile marketing, mobile coupons, mobile texts…why not mobile boarding passes?  For me, whose bag is more like embarking on an archaeological dig than anything else, I think mobile boarding passes are a winning idea. What do you think?

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