Technology is changing everything. Remember when our tickets were printed and mailed to us? Today virtually all flights are ticketed electronically, and boarding passes are increasingly digital.
What is a Mobile Boarding Pass?
A mobile boarding pass is a digital document that allows you to pass security and get on the plane. It’s usually accessed from a mobile phone but can also be displayed on a tablet or laptop. It replaces the old-fashioned paper boarding pass. Both documents have a digital code for scanning: a bar code on paper and a QR code on digital. Mobile boarding passes are also provided by the airline you've chosen to fly with. Often, you can access them via the airline's mobile app - which you'll have to download. Some airlines will email a mobile boarding pass if requested, but you'll often find you need the app. Which, in the end, isn't a bad idea to download. You'll be able to keep an eye on your flights, check in, choose seats, purchase meals, and view your boarding pass all in one place.
Why Should You Use a Mobile Boarding Pass?
Mobile boarding passes are incredibly time-saving and very convenient.
- It’s easy to misplace a slip of paper, but we are motivated to track our phones.
- You can request your mobile boarding pass at online check-in up to 24 hours in advance, so it will streamline your airport experience.
- You avoid lines at desks or digital kiosks.
- You can go straight to security if you are traveling carry-on, and checking baggage is faster.
- Lastly, it reduces waste and diminishes the chances that nefarious folk will get hold of your discarded boarding pass and extract the travel information embedded in the bar code.
There Are Multiple Ways to Access Mobile Boarding Passes
- Open the text or email message when it’s time to show the document.
- Take a screenshot of the document and save it to your photos. Then, you can retrieve it without data or Wi-Fi.
- Download and save it as a PDF — make sure you know how to find it!
- Save it in your smartphone wallet app (Apple Wallet comes with iOS).
- International flights may allow online check-in but require stopping at the counter for passport verification.
Who Should Use a Paper Boarding Pass
It’s great insurance against technical issues.
- If you’re prone to losing things or draining your phone by playing games and watching shows, it's probably a good idea to make sure you have a printed version.
- Got an older, sluggish phone? A small screen? A cracked screen? Print your boarding pass.
- Print them if you are not confident that you can easily find your pass with a few touches.
If you have access to a printer, print at home. Otherwise, get your paper boarding pass at the airport.
Tips for a Low-Stress Boarding Experience Using a Mobile Pass
Keep an eye on your inbox for an email from your airline to check-in. Often, you'll be alerted by airlines that "it's time to check in!" Sometimes you’ll see “no online check-in, please check-in at the airport."
Check all flight times: They may have changed since you booked reservations. Monitor flight status on your day of travel.
If you encounter any problems, don’t delay: Scoot to a counter and get help.
Getting a printed boarding pass at the counter or kiosk is generally free, although some low-cost airlines such as Spirit and Air Asia charge a fee for using counter service.
If you end up running late at the airport, having checked in already can make a huge difference in whether they allow you on the plane.
Our advice: Always check in online for a mobile boarding pass AND play it safe and print a copy.