Your Next Airline Boarding Pass: A Cell Phone

Use your cell phone as an airline boarding pass?

It’s possible if an experiment in Houston with Continental Airlines is a success.

A three-month pilot program there involves technology using encrypted bar codes on mobile device screens, something not being used anywhere else in the world, according to Melvin Carraway, an official with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

“We have been in favor of this for a long time and had fairly consistent dialogue with TSA on our desire to do this,” Mark Bergsrud, a senior vice president for Houston-based Continental, told the Houston Chronicle. “We were ready technically and we are pretty nimble with our ability to develop software and test it.”

Mr Carraway said the TSA, which in the past has had a problem with people trying to use fraudulent paper boarding passes, is confident the technology can’t be cracked.

The program will allow passengers to receive boarding passes electronically, then present bar codes on the screen to be scanned by TSA security officers at the checkpoint, according to Continental.

Ultimately, it could eliminate the need for a paper document besides photo identification.

Initially, the pilot program will be used solely on Continental flights at Intercontinental. If successful, plans call for it to be rolled out to other airlines in about three months, according to Mr Carraway.