Some Airline Smart Phone Apps now allow you to have a "Mobile Boarding Pass" instead of having one printed out. Next week I have a trip coming up to the west coast and been thinking about giving the Mobile Boarding Pass a try through the Delta app. In the past I was a little concerned about encountering a TSA Agent who may not accept the Mobile version or worst case my smart phone dies from low battery or something before I get checked in. But it does seem like using the Mobile App could be a potential time saver.
I like to hear from other Insiders who may have used Mobile Boarding Passes and get their input. Have you encountered any problems? If there is more than one person in your party does each person need to have the app installed on their own phone?
I have used it with mixed results. I downloaded the Alaska Airlines mobile app. I used the app to check in (worked great - I had to log in, just like I do when logging into the airline website on my pc), and then I used it again later, by bringing up the boarding pass onto the screen with the app at the security gate and at the boarding gate. It worked great. The security gate has a similar bar code reader to the one at the boarding gate. The agent just swiped my phone (with the boarding pass bar code on the screen) over the reader, and the same thing at the gate. I was impressed and pleased. No more paper.
But then on another trip (December), after I checked in using the app on the phone, later when I went to bring up the boarding pass, I couldn't seem to access it (again, Alaska Air). I was running a little bit late (which is rare for me), so perhaps I was flustered, which was compounded by each passing minute. I just couldn't seem to bring it up (couldn't get to the right screen) and I'm sure that being stressed didn't help. By the time I decided that I needed to abandon the app and head toward the front counter to get my boarding pass printed - only to see a long line - I was really feeling nervous. I walked straight up to the first class counter where no customers were, apologized profusely for not being in line and explained my situation. Thankfully she handled my situation quickly without sending me to the back of the line. The problem with not being able to successfully navigate to the boarding pass screen later on after checking in on that second flight may have entirely been user error, I'll certainly concede to that.
A recommendation would be to - inside of the 24 hour check in window - check in and navigate to the boarding pass screen, so you can at least see what the boarding pass screen looks like. Then close the app and reopen it, log in again, and try to navigate to the boarding pass again, just to make sure you can do it. Then allow for a little extra time just in case. Other than not being able to nav to the boarding pass that second time, it worked great.
If you try it, let me know how you like it.
Thanks so much for the response and your tips! After your negative experience in December I'm not sure if I will try it or not. Flying sometimes can be stressful enough and one doesn't need to add any extra stress. Were you traveling alone each time you used it? Do you know if other travelers in your party would need to have the app installed on their phone and check in separately?
The first time I used it (successfully), I was solo. The second time, it was my husband and I. But actually, both of our flight reservations were under the same 6 digit confirmation number and I had no problem checking us both in. And now that I think of it, I don't remember if I had to log on or not, or if I just navigated to the check-in tab, and entered the conf. #. I did navigate to the boarding passes the second time (when I checked in the night prior), I just had difficulty getting back there in the morning. I did not have that issue on the previous flight. Like I said, it may have just been user error.
I suggest downloading the app and trying it out. It's free. If you don't like it, you can always uninstall. Print your boarding pass in advance just for insurance on your first go of it (you can print your boarding pass prior to checking in), but go ahead and try the app out and see how you like it. At least I like checking in on my phone much better than using the hotel business center (I'm a leisure traveler and don't travel with my laptop anymore - too cumbersome, so my phone is prime).
Again, if you try it, I'd love to read about your experience.
If I do decide to give it a try I will definitely let you know how it goes. I was just reading some tips on another website and several people suggested taking a screenshot of your boarding pass on your smart phone which is apparently very easy if your an iPhone user or have Android 4.0. It's much faster and easier to pull of the picture of your boarding pass from your gallery and then you have a backup in case some reason the airline ap stops working or you loose internet connection.
You can still save the paper. The suggestion was to use the Airline Ap on your phone to display the boarding pass. Then you can use a screen capture function of your phone to create an image of your boarding pass and then access it from your image gallery.
To take a screen shot using an iPhone you press the "Home" and "Sleep" buttons at the same time.
To take a screen shot using Android 4.0 press the "Volume Down" and "Power" buttons at the same time.
But if I can display the boarding pass (bar code) with my airline phone app, I don't need to do the screen shot. I can just run the displayed boarding pass over the bar code reader at TSA and at the gate.
I didn't know about the screen shot function though, which could come in handy for other purposes. Thanks.
True, the Snapshot idea was a backup plan just in case you have trouble with the Airline's smartphone app not working correctly at the crucial time you need it. Some users also claim they can retrieve the boarding pass faster from their image gallery since they do not have to log back into the airline app.
Along with the advantage of finding things like that, I also find that taking pictures of things like my parking slot where my car is before I leave for a long trip, labels of a wine or special food I like, and things like that all come in handy for remembering and finding things quickly. For many things, I'd never take the time to write it down, and wouldn't remember where I filed it, if I did, but it only cost me a second to take a quick picture of it.
I've used them at every opportunity for a few years now. The United/iPhone integration makes the process seamless through the Passbook app. The boarding pass is available directly from the lock screen, and displayed only in the right timeframe and for the correct segment. It's never failed to read correctly (and in fact is less problematic than the email-delivered version). At least with United, it's also smart enough to know which airports have readers, and where they're not available will refuse to display one, so I know to print a physical boarding pass at the hotel or airport.
As each individual would be required to have their own boarding pass in paper form, the same applies to electronic versions; in fact, I don't think you could have different boarding passes for the same flight but different passengers simultaneously anyway. But even then, you don't all have to use the same format. One could be electronic, the other physical, it's not an issue. Also, it's not up to an individual TSA officer to accept or reject them; it they have a reader and it's operational, it's a valid boarding pass, period.
And if you go to the airport with a dead battery, well, c'mon.
If the airport has the scanners (and they're not broken), electronic boarding passes are 100% acceptable (and preferred by both the airlines and the TSA). It's not up to any TSA officer's whim to decide they don't feel like accepting them. If an officer gets snarky about it, demand a supervisor. The only time I had to go back to the counter and get a paper pass is when the scanner was not working, and they let me back in at the head of the line for the trouble. In point of fact, I've had paper passes fail to scan more often than I care to remember.
Another thing to keep in mind, at least with Delta, is what airports allow the e-boarding pass.
Here is the link to Delta's page that lists the locations that phone boarding passes can be used.