Technically we're talking about two different technologies. The print-from-home 2D boarding passesor Bar Coded Boarding Passes (BCBP)long ago began replacing tickets. By 2010 the International Air Transportation Association says its members will be 100% on BCBP's. The newer technology is the one that makes everything paperless by beaming the bar code into your mobile, after which it gets read at security checks and at the gate.
As of last summer there were already seventeen airlines using the paperless 2D boarding passes globally. Only five of them were American companies: American, Alaska, Continental, Delta, and Northwest had all begun making the switch at the various airport they call home. Our hub-and-spoke system being what it is, of course a lot of that growth was uneven. So at O'Hare you can use 2D passes to get through the American line. For Sea-Tac it's Alaska. And so on. Overall there are 30 TSA pilot projects all over the country.
There are still a few hiccups in the system that need to be worked out. Bar codes are apparently delicate things, and each of those tiny little lines has some significance. If your mobile screen is too small to display everything you might end up holding back the line orworsehave trouble boarding altogether. So remember to have a backup hard copy while you're test driving going paperless. Just on the off chance that using a relatively new technology on a relatively new delivery platform won't be totally smooth sailing.
Have you had a chance to get a 2D bar code scanned off your cell phone? Did you run into any of the same problemsdownloading, readabilitythat other passengers are reporting? Let us know in the comments!
[Photo: Come fly with me / Wiki Commons]