Avoid Paper Boarding Passes with Mobile Apps

by Nancy Bestor

I hate waste. I like to write grocery lists on used envelopes and I’ll carry paper and plastic in my purse or bag until I can recycle it. I turn off lights when no one is in a room (and sometimes, much to my family’s dismay, I even turn off lights when someone is in a room!). So I was delighted to learn that most major airlines now offer mobile boarding pass services. That’s right, with a smart phone, PDA or tablet, travelers can download their boarding passes and use their mobile device to display them to TSA agents at security and to airline employees for boarding, and do away with the seemingly endless stacks of paper that normally make up your travel documents.

Bob and I recently tested mobile boarding passes with three airlines–United, US Air, and Alaska–on a trip to Las Vegas. We downloaded the Alaska and United Airlines mobile apps to our iPhone and iPad, and lo and behold, at every airport (Las Vegas, San Francisco, and yes, even Medford, Oregon) we were able to show the Quick Response (QR) code from our boarding pass and entirely avoided using any paper. US Air does not currently have a mobile app, but we were still able to download our boarding pass via their website and show the QR to board.

The mobile apps that we tried also offered more excellent features as well, including flight status checks, mobile text or phone alerts, airport maps, and more. Other airlines offer even more services through their mobile apps. Notable services include Cathay Pacific’s city guides, Lufthansa’s 360-degree view of the cockpit and a GPS navigator to show you how to get to your baggage carousel, and Virgin Airlines Jet Lag Fighter which helps you establish and stick to a proper sleep schedule for your destination.

If you’re a mobile electronics users, check online before you fly next time, and find out if your airline has a mobile app available. It not only saves on paper, it’s pretty darn convenient too.