updated 04:50 pm EST, Wed December 5, 2007
Cellular boarding passes
Some airline passengers boarding in Houston, Texas today may be the first in the US to use their cellphones as boarding passes. Continental Airlines and the Transportation Security Administration have launched a pilot project at George Bush International Airport, in which fliers with cellphones (or PDA-like devices) are able to receive on-screen barcodes, which are in turn scanned by TSA employees at an appropriate checkpoint. The specific implementation of the technology is not being used anywhere else in the world, claims TSA official Melvin Carraway.
For the TSA, the advantage of electronic boarding passes is threefold: it not only eliminates wasteful, unnecessary paper usage, it may eventually increase security, as digital barcodes are much harder to replicate compared to current paper passes. This last point has the dual advantage of conforming with an International Air Transport Association plan, which would see the use of magnetic strips ended by 2010, airports instead switching to barcodes in digital or paper formats. Should the Continental project prove successful by the end of three months, other airlines may begin using the technology, Carraway says. [via The Houston Chronicle]