Airlines Offer Mobile Boarding Passes

Long gone are the days when Southwest Airlines used to offer those massive, colored pieces of plastic as boarding passes. We’ve evolved past that point into the high-tech realm of print-at-home boarding passes and e-ticketing, right?


Remember these guys?

Well, regular tech-savvy travelers with smart phones can now take advantage of an airline initiative that is rapidly becoming even more popular: mobile boarding passes.


The way this works is that, upon completing your online reservation, you can tick a box offering for a mobile boarding pass to be sent directly to your phone. In actuality, these are sent to your email address, and when you open the email from your phone, you are redirected to a mobile-friendly site that displays your boarding pass.


The mobile pass is equipped with the same bar code that your standard paper (or plastic?) boarding pass would be, and it is completely machine readable. The gate attendant will simply scan the code displayed on your phone and away you will go down the jetway.



There have been some complaints about this, and like with any new technology, there are kinks to be worked out. For example, sometimes, the scanners are faulty and can’t read the code from your phone, which might see you being sent back to the desk to get a paper copy that can be read. If this happens, you might also get unwanted glares from the folks behind you for holding up the line.


However, there is something to be said for going ahead and using the technology now. First of all, it will make everyone, especially security employees and other passengers, more aware of this new process, and that will help iron out the kinks more quickly. It is also much more environmentally friendly than constantly using up paper for boarding passes, which alone makes it a worthy cause in my mind.


A few tips if you want to try using a mobile boarding pass the next time you fly:


Get to the airport early. You’re going to have some delays using the thing right now, so allow yourself an extra 20 or 30 minutes, just in case.


Expect glares. The mass of people are not so friendly about hold-ups, especially in airports. Try smiling and apologizing – this often goes a long way to making people feel more at easy with your “new-fangled device”.


Bring a paper copy. This might seem counter productive, but while the kinks of the technology are being worked out, it will save you time and hassle to go ahead and print a paper copy of your boarding pass, just in case.


Check your route & airline beforehand. Not all airlines are offering mobile boarding passes yet, and even the ones that do have limited them to certain routes so far. This is presumably because it takes time to disseminate the equipment to every counter in every airport. Be sure to check with your airline beforehand (look for that “cell phone” labeled box to tick when you’re booking) to make sure that this service is offered on your flight.