Mobile boarding: Know the ins and outs of your paperless boarding option

Technology has made life easier in many ways, and any time it can alleviate the need for paper, that’s a good thing. Keeping people moving through long lines? That’s another bonus. ‌When it comes to travel, one of the coolest and simplest technological advancement is the electronic boarding pass.

How to get a boarding pass on your mobile phone

Getting a boarding pass on a phone requires basically the same process across every airline.‌ When checking into a flight online or in an airline’s app, a passenger has the option of receiving the pass via email, text or an app, at which point a link will be sent to the QR code. As long as the phone has a camera and QR scanner, all iPhones and iOS devices do, it’s good to go: All that’s needed is to follow the link provided and retrieve the code. You can even store it in wallet app, however androids don’t have the apple wallet feature but you can still use a mobile app and get notifications.

What is an electronic boarding pass?

An electronic boarding pass is simply a pass that displays on a mobile device, making a printed boarding pass unnecessary.‌ Upon arrival at the security checkpoint, the traveler shows the QR code to a TSA agent at airport security, who scans it with a hand-held barcode scanner. The agent will also need to see a driver’s license or passport, and if the information on the ID matches the scan, the traveler will be sent through. At the gate, when it’s time to board, the boarding agent will re-scan the QR code. The e-ticket also includes your flight number and flight status.

What is checking in online for a flight?

Rather than standing in line at the airport to check in, passengers can now check in online as early as 24 hours in advance of the flight, and as late as one hour before.‌ After some pertinent flight and identification information is entered on the airline’s website, and seats are selected, the check-in process is complete. This is convenient not just because online check-in allows the passenger to move more quickly through long lines -- or even avoid them -- but also because if bags must be checked, they can be paid for online and dropped at the airline’s curbside baggage drop-off or a baggage kiosk inside.

Other tips for mobile boarding

Sometimes, mobile boarding passes are only available on domestic flights, not international flights. Additionally, the scanners needed to read these passes are not available at every airport, so in some instances, even a domestic traveler will need a paper boarding pass. The airlines provide lists of participating airports, so passengers can make sure before departing for the airport. Most airlines offer this option including southwest, jetblue, delta, and american airlines.


Some issues have occurred with electronic boarding passes and connecting flights, and sometimes scanners don’t work as well as they should. Be aware that this can happen, and it may slow down the process. Still, overall, having a boarding pass on your phone is a convenient option.