Paperless boarding passes will expand pilot program to three additional airports
Within the coming weeks, paperless boarding passes will be offered for Continental passengers traveling via Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, located in Arlington, Va.; Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport; and Boston’s Logan International Airport.
With paperless boarding passes, Continental passengers can receive boarding passes electronically on their cell phones or PDAs, which will then be scanned by TSA security officers at the airport checkpoint. An encrypted two-dimensional bar code, along with passenger and flight information, identifies the traveler. Rather than the traditional vertical bar code that most people are familiar with, the two-dimensional bar code is a rectangle of black and white squares resembling the static “snow” on an unreceptive television.
TSA security officers will use hand-held scanners to validate the authenticity of the paperless boarding pass of each passenger. Passengers will still be required to show photo identification so officers can validate that the name on the boarding pass matches that on the ID.
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, with Continental Airlines, signifies TSA’s ongoing commitment to develop and execute new technologies within aviation while enhancing security,” said Karen Burke, federal security director, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. “These paperless boarding pass pilots are a significant step toward ensuring that fraudulent boarding passes cannot be used to gain access to the sterile side of airports.”
The TSA created the concept of how to scan the paperless boarding passes, and Continental Airlines developed an implementation plan that involved encrypting the paperless boarding pass to ensure authenticity.
Continental is the first U.S. carrier to test paperless boarding passes, which were initially implemented on a trial basis at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in November 2007. Since the initial launch, enhancements have been made to the boarding pass, such as improving the readability of the bar code on a wider variety of mobile devices. The initiative will continue on a permanent basis for passengers traveling via Continental Airlines out of IAH.
The International Air Transport Association plans to require all airlines to use the two-dimensional bar code on boarding passes by the end of 2010.
For more information, including a video on how the paperless boarding passes work, visit http://www.tsa.gov/.