Hey fun – and it’s about time. This has been bounced about for the past year or two: Confirm your ticket online, click and send to your cell phone, then show your phone boarding pass for gate access and boarding. According to Chris Null’s blog 240 airlines have already adopted a universal standard and agreed to the logistics and processes of utilizing this method.
One concern I have is RETURNING from overseas to the U.S. If these are delivered via text message can I still access it from a location where I don’t have service? But overall this is great. Everyone from age 8 to 80 has cell phones, especially when traveling. This would create fewer lines like these, and less steps in the departure process.
Imagine this: instead of taking a paper ticket to the airport or stopping at an automated kiosk, you’d just skip the lines and head right to security, cell phone in hand. Blogger Chris Null has already written about Air Canada’s test program that lets passengers use a cell phone as their board pass, and now USA Today reports that a similar pilot program kicked off yesterday in Houston. For the three-month test, passengers flying out of Bush Intercontinental Airport on Continental (the airline that’s participating in the program) will receive a bar code on their phones before their flights; once they get to the airport, fliers simply display the bar code to TSA officials and gate attendants, who swipe the code using a hand-held scanner and send them on their way.
Of course, the pilot program still has some hurdles to clear. For now, the system only works for individual passengers; Continental is working on a fix so a family can travel under one bar code. It also sounds like you’ll need a smartphone such as a BlackBerry, a Treo, or an iPhone to receive the bar code (although more and more standard phones are capable of receiving e-mail messages). Oh, and what happens if your phone goes dead? No problem—just go back to the kiosks or head to the counter.