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Check in at the Airport Using Your Mobile Device

Thu Mar 20, 2008 - 8:43 AM EDT - By Jennifer Chappell


Susan Stellin of The New York Times has written an interesing article on technology at airport terminals.

Susan says that with 80 percent of passengers using self-service options such as Web check-ins, the next step is electronic boarding passes, which pretty much turn hand-hand devices and mobile phones of travelers into their boarding passes.

According to the article, at least half a dozen airlines in the United States currently allow customers to check in using their mobile devices including American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest and Alaska. Continental seems to be the only carrier in the United States so far to begin testing the electronic passes, which allows travelers to pass through security and board their plane without having to handle a piece of paper.

Susan stated:

Their boarding pass is an image of an encrypted bar code displayed on the phone’s screen, which can be scanned by gate agents and security personnel.

She goes on to say that when using the other airline's mobile check-in services, customers still have to print a boarding pass at an airport kiosk. Most carriers are eager to eliminate this step though once the Transportation Security Administration gives its approval.

According to the article, the technology being tested by Continental uses a two-dimensional encrypted bar code, which is much tougher to copy than the one-dimensional bar code used by many airlines for boarding passes printed online. That's is a major reason the T.S.A. is expected to embrace the technology.

Andrea McCauley, a T.S.A. spokeswoman was quoted in the article:

“We’ve seen indications that terrorists might seek to use fake boarding passes to attempt to enter the security line,” Ms. McCauley said. “When we scan the bar code, we know if it’s been manipulated or if someone has tried to manipulate it in any way.”

A big Thanks to Annie for sending me the story! ;-)

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