Mobile check-in moves a step closer

Online check-in is increasing quickly and now, it seems, yet another hurdle has fallen away between passengers and the increasingly automated, electronic airport.

The International Air Transport Association recently rubber-stamped proposals to allow two-dimensional barcode boarding passes contained on electronic devices to be used for passenger check-in.

The decision will effectively allow passengers to receive their boarding passes from an airline direct to mobiles phones or BlackBerry handsets and then be read on existing airport scanners.

IATA research as far back as 2006 indicated a willingness on the part of airlines to offer mobile check-in, with 27% planning to introduce such schemes by 2008.

A more recent survey in October 2007 found that almost two-thirds of passengers in Atlanta were favourable to mobile check-in, with 56% in Hong Kong also indicating a positive response.

The IATA directive has set standards for all airlines using mobile check-in. The ‘message’ contains a barcode, name of ticket holder, flight number, allocated seat and route.

Mobile Travel Technologies executive director, Gerry Samuels, welcomed the IATA decision.

“It will enable airlines to extend the self-service check-in model to those travellers who do not have access to Internet-connected PCs or are flying from airports without kiosks,” he says.

MTT is one of a number of companies developing systems for airlines to use mobile check-in through their existing web functionality. The company’s M2Plane system supports the Aztec and Datamatrix formats for Europe and North America and QR for Japan.

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