Yesterday I used a mobile boarding pass for the first time. United Airlines’ checkin didn’t make me choose between mobile and paper, so I chose both — it wasn’t a risk to try mobile because I would have the paper as a backup, just in case.
I clicked “Mobile” and had it sent to my phone via email. I then retrieved the email on my phone and tapped the link. The boarding pass opened just fine in the phone’s browser (see image at right).
The mobile boarding pass worked without a hitch. After saying he hadn’t done one before, the TSA agent led me to the machine, and I put my iPhone to the scanner. I probably held it there too long because I was expecting the scanner to beep, but he told me to remove the phone, and then he said “You pass!”
Using the mobile pass to board was even more straightforward. United’s gate agent was clearly used to them, and everything went smoothly.
So why is it not for me? Well, consider what I had to do to use it:
- Get my phone out of my pocketbook or pocket, wherever I’ve been keeping it. This is more trouble than getting out a piece of paper, because my phone is in a case with a high coefficient of friction and does not slide smoothly. (I do this to help prevent a thief from lightfingering it.)
- Wake up the phone.
- Enter my security passcode.
- If the browser is not the current app (e.g., if I’ve been checking my email), bring it to the front.
- Ensure that the screen doesn’t go blank before I have to scan the code, or I’ll have to do steps 2 & 3 again.
For me, it’s just more trouble than it’s worth. It’s cool and all that, but there are too many steps. I can tuck the paper pass into my passport (which I use for ID whenever I travel, even domestically) and it’s always right there in front.
Paper is very lightweight. It doesn’t need to be awakened or given a security code. I can check my email without sending it to the background. I can keep it in the same place and bring it out whenever it’s needed, without worrying about what else I might need it for. And I can even write things on it if I need to.
I’ll use mobile again if I am someplace where I can’t print the boarding pass. But when I can use paper, I will.
Do you use mobile boarding passes? What do you think of them?