It has been over two years since I wrote about using the iPhone as a boarding pass, but I never had the opportunity to try it myself until yesterday. I had a Delta flight, and when checking in online, I saw that I was offered the option to obtain an eBoarding Pass in addition (or instead of) a printed boarding pass. I played it safe and chose both options.
Here is what Delta says on its website about using an eBoarding Pass:
What is an eBoarding Pass?
Now, when you're departing from certain airports, you can go completely paperless by having an eBoarding Pass sent directly to your Web-enabled mobile device. It's the fastest, most convenient way to check in.
Here's how it works:
• While you're checking in online, choose the eBoarding Pass option—instead of the normal paper boarding pass.
• When you've completed the check-in process, instead of printing your boarding pass, your eBoarding Pass, flight information and barcode will be sent directly to your mobile device.
• Once you're at the airport, if you're checking bags, you can save time by using Curbside Check-in or one of our Baggage Drops.
• When you reach security, an agent will check your ID and scan the eBoarding Pass on your mobile device.
• Then you can head straight to your departure gate and show your eBoarding Pass to the gate agent when it’s time to board.
The list of airports at which you can use an eBoarding Pass is contained on this page on the Delta website. It includes my hometown of New Orleans and airports in other cites like Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York (LGA) and Seattle but doesn't yet include major airports such as San Francisco (SFO), the other big New York-area airports (JFK and EWR) and Dallas (DFW).
When I selected the option for an eBoarding Pass, I received an e-mail with a link to a webpage. When I clicked the link, I was brought to a page containing a QR Code to show to the appropriate agents. I don't know if this contains personal information, so I added some black bar redactions to these images:
It worked great. When I got to the security check-in, I saw a device on the front of the podium where the TSA agent was standing. He told me to scan the code on my iPhone, and I saw my name appear on a small display on his side of the podium, which he compared to my driver's license. When it was time to board the plane, the gate agent simply directed me to scan the front of my iPhone on the same machine she was using to scan paper boarding passes. Nobody acted as if I was doing anything unusual, even though it was a new experience for me.
Many years ago, I managed to lose "real" paper tickets before an international flight. The only solution was for me to buy another set of tickets for me and my wife, and then the airline said that once nobody showed up using my original tickets, I would receive a refund on my credit card. The refund did eventually show up, but I was a little nervous about it until that refund appeared on my statement. Nowadays, for most flights, we are long past the age of "real" paper tickets that you need to worry about losing; we all just use electronic tickets that can be reprinted at any time on a computer or at the airport. Even so, it is nice to have the option to use an eBoarding Pass without dealing with any paper at all. It worked so well for me yesterday that I will always use this option again in the future when I can.