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.