Electronic boarding passes are probably the future of airline travel.

Electronic boarding passes are probably the future of airline travel. Image from Alaska Airlines.

The future is nearing. A little over a year ago I talked about electronic boarding passes becoming a reality.  Today, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air are launching both a mobile-friendly website and electronic boarding passes for passengers flying from Anchorage, Boise, Denver, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle and Spokane.  There are already 30 airports and six airlines testing out this technology: Continental, Delta, Alaska, Horizon and American. Surprisingly, Alaska and Horizon are the first non-legacy airlines to test out the new technology.

Travellers are able to check in using their mobile phone up to 24 hours in advance of their flight. They are given an encrypted barcode along with the passenger and flight information. While going through security, TSA will be able to scan the electronic ticket, check id and the passenger is good to go.

“Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air’s electronic boarding pass and optimized mobile Web site meet the needs of today’s high-tech traveler, ” said Steve Jarvis, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of marketing, sales and customer experience. “Starting today, our customers can expedite the airport check-in process even more and get from curbside to planeside in record time.”

In the next few months, the service will be spread to other Alaska and Horizon cities. In the future, they told me we, “will see more mobile device enhancements to make travel more convenient.”

Is this the future of airline travel? I really think so. No more having to double check to make sure you have your boarding passes. No more having to track down a departure screen to see what your flight status is. The biggest problem will be remember to charge your phone before leaving. Nothing would be more frustrating than waiting in security for 30 minutes, have your phone die, having to go wait in line to get your boarding pass, then get through security again.

Personally, I haven’t been able to test out this new technology. Have any of you been able to? What are your thoughts?

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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me: david@airlinereporter.com

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jane powell

I wonder who the mfg of these scanners are? anyone know that?

Sorry, is this really all that new? I haven’t used this service, but I remember telling me someone they did (not on Alaska) about a year ago. Also, “departure scream”?

The concept isn’t new for sure — I even wrote about it a year ago. What is new is the first non-legacy airline is adopting this technology. Plus with me being based in Seattle (Horizon + Alaska’s home town) I like to cover the local airline news.

Thanks for the edit, I meant “screen”


I have tried this twice, once on Continental from Newark, and once on Delta from Atlanta. Both times it worked great! In Newark it the TSA agent apparently didn’t really understand what to do, possibly because the service had just started when I tried it, and asked me for a paper boarding pass but he eventually took me over to get it scanned and I was on my way. The gate agent for this flight was very excited when I handed her my phone because I was apparently the first person she had to try this out. The Delta flight was smoother, the TSA saw my phone got up and walked with me over to a stand that I put my phone under, it brought my name and flight info up on a screen for him, he looked at my ID and that was that. The Delta gate agent also knew what to do, it just scans the same place as normal boarding passes, but he didn’t quite understand how iPhones worked, because the screen kept flipping around on him.

Overall I really like the service, especially if you are saying somewhere you can’t print out your boarding pass before going to the airport. The only issues I see with it are the battery issue as mentioned above and if you don’t have cell service when you are in the security line. I forget how the Continental one got to my phone, but the Delta one was a text message that gave me a link to a website so you have to make sure it is up before you get to the TSA.

Thanks Chris for sharing your experiences. I know when e-podiums started most employees didn’t know how to work them very well either, but learned with time.

I didn’t think about the cell service. I know a lot of airlines are offering free wi-fi now, but that could be problematic.


Having wifi in the airport is a good point, but how many airports have wifi outside the gate area? I know Atlanta does, but it isn’t free. If there is free wifi there still the question of how long does it take to get on the wifi open that stupid page were you have to “logon” and then load your boarding pass, at that point probably just as quick to go to the kiosk or open it before going into the airport. But all these are minor issues since you hopefully have cell service wherever you are and didn’t forget to charge your battery so you can play iPhone games on your flight 🙂 .


Misleading. Alaska Air did not launch a mobile-friendly website. They launched a mobile application. These are two very different things.

It definetely will be the future. If it works out well for them then you can expect every other airline to follow, just like with everything else in the airline industry. One comes up with an idea and then the rest follow.


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