Cell Phones Replacing Paper Boarding Passes

Dennis Faas's picture

Continental Airlines passengers flying out of Houston, Texas will soon be able to board their flights using their cell phone or personal-digital assistant in place of a standard boarding pass. The paperless boarding pass is part of a three-month test program that will gauge the responsiveness of passengers and overall efficiency of the service.

Instead of fumbling through a myriad of papers, Continental Airlines will only require their passengers to show a bar code that the airline had previously sent to their cell phone or PDA.

The two-dimensional bar code is nothing more than a jumble of squares and rectangles, but all of the personal information that would normally be found on a paper boarding pass pops up when the code is scanned. All bar codes are confirmed by an airport screener using a handheld scanner. Passengers will still be required to show photo identification when necessary. (Source: usatoday.com)

The new technology is expected to increase efficiency, eliminate paperwork and make the entire flight process more pleasing to the passenger. The electronic pass will also be better able to detect fraudulent boarding passes, which have become problematic for airlines in recent years.

There have also been a few criticisms directed towards the new format. Analysts are concerned that some cell phones will lose power upon check-in. Continental promised to provide paper boarding passes to all passengers who experience cell phone problems after proving their flight confirmation.

Another foreseeable problem is that the electronic pass is only permissible if the passenger is flying alone. Continental indicated that future upgrades will soon accommodate multiple travelers.

If Continental decides to adopt the new format, they would not be the first airline in the world to do so. Air Canada has been offering paperless boarding passes for over three months now and a few other countries have experimented with their own variations of the service. (Source: wkyc.com)

Analysts are certain that if the program is successful in Houston, it would expand to airlines and airports all across the United States in a matter of months.

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