American Airlines tests mobile boarding passes

November 14, 2008

American Airlines has started testing mobile boarding passes next week at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The service allows airline travelers to show their cell phones to get through security checkpoints and use their phones as boarding passes at the gate.

The service officially started yesterday. In order to use cell phone boarding users just have to have an active e-mail address and an Internet-enabled cell phone where the airline can send them a unique 2-D barcode. At the gate, users simple show their barcode to the attendant and they scan it, much like is done with traditional boarding passes.

Users opt to receive a mobile boarding pass rather than a paper one when they check in for their flight via American Airlines Web site. If they select the mobile boarding pass option they are then sent an e-mail with a link to a downloadable version of their boarding pass.

Both Delta and Continental airlines have tried out similar programs. Continental started their program almost a year ago in seven airports across the country and Delta kicked their program off this past summer. After the initial test in Chicago American plans to expand their coverage to flights departing from Los Angeles International and John Wayne Orange County airports next week.

For those concerned with security, American touts that the service is actually MORE safe than traditional boarding passes. While a traditional boarding pass is only scanned at boarding, the mobile boarding pass will have to be scanned both at boarding and at the security gate. The passes also “employ encryption technology to guard against forgeries.”

Only one ticket can be used per cell phone, so if you’re traveling in a group everyone will have to have their own pass. The service is also only available for non-stop flights within the US, US Virgin islands, and Puerto Rico, which is somewhat limiting. [via Gizmodo]

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