American Airlines is testing a new mobile boarding pass at O'Hare International Airport that would allow cell phone and PDA users to flash a bar code on the screen to board their flights and get through security.
According to the Chicago Tribune, to use the feature passengers must have an active e-mail address, as well an Internet enabled mobile device, to which the boarding pass and a two-dimensional bar code can be sent. The Texas-based American is the latest airline to test mobile boarding, which is a process introduced by Continental Airlines at seven airports last December. Delta Airlines launched a similar test this summer.
When passengers check in for flights using American Airlines' Web site, they are given the option of receiving their boarding passes on cell phones and BlackBerries. If they select the mobile boarding option, the paper reported, they will get an e-mail with an Internet link to their boarding pass. By clicking on the link, the passengers can download the mobile boarding pass, which includes the bar code. The new system provides an added level of security over paper boarding passes, said American spokesman Billy Sanez. Paper boarding passes are scanned only at the gate, before passengers enter an airplane.
However, the mobile passes are scanned twice: once at the gate, and at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, according to the Tribune. They also employ encryption technology to guard against forgeries.
However, there are limits to the technology. For now, customers going mobile can list only one person in their reservation, the paper reported, meaning the service likely isn't feasible for parents traveling with children. Also, it can only be used for non-stop or same-plane flights in the United States and to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Passengers will still need a paper boarding pass to return to Chicago.