American Airlines Debuts Mobile Boarding Pass

mobile barcode

Your cell phone may help you avoid the long lines at the airport this holiday season, as American Airlines is implementing a mobile boarding pass program at select airports. These services have been available for a few years already in Japan and, to a lesser extent, in Europe.

In partnership with the Transportation Security Administration, the airline will enable customers to receive a two-dimensional bar code on their cell phones that will act as a boarding pass. The program is in trial at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and will soon expand to domestic flights from Los Angeles International and John Wayne Orange County airports.

“Customers who choose this option can bypass printing a boarding pass at their home, office, or even at the airport to board their plane. They can go straight to security and then to the aircraft,” said Mark DuPont, the company’s VP of airport services planning, in a statement.

To use mobile boarding passes, customers have to have an active e-mail account and a phone that’s Internet-enabled. When the customers check in via the airline’s Web site through a desktop or mobile, they will have the option of getting a boarding pass sent to an Internet-enabled mobile device. Once the customers are at the airport, they can proceed directly to the security checkpoint where airport personnel can scan their phones.

American Airlines is just the latest airline to dabble in the mobile space, as Continental and Delta have been testing similar boarding pass programs in cooperation with the TSA.

Using cell phones and smartphones to check it was greatly boosted by the 2007 decision by the International Air Transport Association to introduce a global standard for boarding pass bar codes. The association represents about 93% of international air traffic, and all airlines must have bar coded boarding passes — paper or digital — fully implemented by 2010.

The ability to scan these two-dimensional barcodes off a phone is also the technology being used to keep financial and personal information on phones that allow users to make purchases and enter restricted areas at work places.

The obvious risk is that now consumers will need to protect their phones even more since personal and financial fraud can now be perpetrated with a stolen phone.

some information and images linked from Information Week.

Carriers Say No to Airporn

Some excerpts and comments on an original Article posted at  Wired.com By Dave Demerjian

plane laptop

People get bored on long flights, which is why we love in-flight Internet access. It lets people check email, read Wired.com, watch the stock market collapse and enjoy their favorite scenes from On Golden Blonde and Forest Hump.

Airlines, worried the wi-fi services they’re rolling out will turn planes into flying porn theaters, are installing filters to prevent passengers from surfing smut. The decision is hailed by flight attendants — who’ve so far been responsible for preventing porn peeping — and by activists concerned that children and other passengers might be subjected to objectionable material. They also worry unfettered onboard Internet access poses a security and safety risk.

American Airlines says it will “implement technology to filter pornographic content over it’s Gogo in-flight Internet service.” It’s an about-face for the airline, which had said it would leave the nannying to flight attendants. The course correction was prompted in part by the vocal concerns of flight attendants who didn’t want to be morality cops after the airline started offering in-flight wi-fi last month.

“Flight attendants are on board to provide security and safety for passengers, not to monitor their Internet usage,” Corey Caldwell of the Association of Flight Attendants told Wired.com. “We’re glad the airlines have responded to our concerns and to those of passengers.”

But at least one privacy rights advocate opposes the idea and says blocking porn is the first step down a slippery slope.

“I don’t think it makes much sense,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told ITWorld.com. Filters do nothing to keep people from viewing inappropriate material stored on their laptops and open the door to blocking other content airlines — or others — might deem inappropriate, he says. “It’s so easy, once that precedent is set, to broaden … the kind of information blocks that might be imposed.”

Airline cabin crews aren’t the only ones worried about airborne porn. Girls Against Porn lobbied American to install filters, urging the airline to consider the harm inappropriate content might have on passengers and citing a particularly disgusting incident that has resulted in a $200,000 lawsuit against American. “The airlines risk having this happen repeatedly if the Internet isn’t filtered,” Girls Against Porn said in a statement.

Delta Airlines, which rolls out in-flight wi-fi later this year, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution it will filter inappropriate content. “Blocking will be limited in scope and will be for sites that few, if any, would question are inappropriate to be viewed on an aircraft,” spokesman Kent Landers said, addressing concerns about filters known to block non-erotic sites such as Vanity Fair.

The two airlines are working with Aircell, which provides the wi-fi technology, to find a filter, though the company has yet come up with a solution. “We want to be good partners to the customers coming to us with these types of concerns,” a company source told Wired.com. “We’re working with them to come up with an effective solution.”

When they do, passengers will have to find another way to occupy themselves on those long-haul flights.

WiFi on Public Transportation

Several Airlines have started providing Wifi on their flights for passengers, including American and Delta. The price is $12.95. I had heard about this a few weeks ago and am glad to see them moving forward with a plan that will allow people to be more productive on those long flights. There is a good article stating Five Reasons Why it Will Take Off. I wonder if you pay for the service if they will still make you turn off all your devices during take-off and landing? is that time prorated?

I am taking the Amtrak tomorrow (really later today) to go to San Jose for a conference on internet video, gaming and other technical aspects of my job. NVision. I was hoping there would be Wifi on the train as well. It IS the Capitol Corridor. This is the Bay Area for gosh sakes, we can’t even go get out double lattes without needing to check email and twitter!

Alas, the project to provide Wifi on the train won’t be completed until 2009. I guess I’ll have to resort to the 3G network instead. Drat.