TSA, American Airlines launch paperless boarding

Published 24 November 2008

Paperless boarding pass will allow passengers to receive boarding passes electronically on their cell phones or PDAs

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and American Airlines announced the launch of a Paperless Boarding Pass pilot program at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). It will allow passengers to receive boarding passes electronically on their cell phones or PDAs, which will then be scanned by TSA security officers at the checkpoint and eliminate the need for a paper boarding pass.

Each paperless boarding pass will display a two-dimensional bar code along with passenger and flight information that will identify the traveler. TSA travel document checkers will use mobile scanners to validate the authenticity of the paperless boarding pass sent to American Airlines passengers as well as the traditional boarding passes. The new technology heightens the ability to detect fraudulent boarding passes while improving customer service and reducing paper use. “The deployment of the paperless technology signifies TSA’s ongoing commitment to develop and execute new technologies within aviation while enhancing security,” said Larry Fetters, federal security director, LAX. “We are thrilled to be able to expand this pilot program and deploy new technology that will help our document checkers validate authentic boarding documents.”

Last week, American Airlines introduced these new mobile boarding passes at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and debuted the technology this week at LAX and John Wayne Orange County (SNA) airports as well. “Mobile boarding via AA.com is the latest way American Airlines is making travel as easy and convenient as possible, especially for our customers on the go,” said Mark DuPont, American’s vice president - Airport Services Planning. “Customers who choose this option can bypass printing a boarding pass at their home, office or even at the airport to board their plane. They can go straight to security and then to the aircraft.”

To use the mobile boarding pass option, either with the traditional desktop version of AA.com or the mobile version, customers must have an active e-mail address where their boarding pass may be sent and an Internet-enabled mobile device where the 2-D barcode can be received. Additionally, during the introduction of this new feature, customers may list only one person in their reservation and must be traveling on American or American Eagle nonstop or same-plane direct to a domestic destination from Chicago, Los Angeles, or Orange County. Domestic destinations include those within the United States as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The mobile boarding pass process is simple: When customers check in for their flight using American’s Web site, AA.com — either the desktop or mobile versions — they have the option to receive their boarding passes on their cell phones or PDAs. If this option is selected, they will get an e-mail with an Internet link to their boarding pass. The mobile boarding pass contains a 2-D barcode that can be scanned at TSA security checkpoints and at American Airlines gates. At the airport, customers simply scan their cell phone or PDA screen when going through security (proper identification must be presented) and when boarding, just as they would a traditional paper boarding pass.

Customers wishing to check bags can also use the new option by scanning the boarding pass on their cell phone or PDA screen at American Airlines self-service machines, ticket counters, or curbside check-in facilities.