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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > Experiences showing iPhone instead of e-ticket at airports?

Experiences showing iPhone instead of e-ticket at airports?
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Jul 21, 2008, 04:05 AM
 
I fly quite a bit within Europe and the US, but sometimes also to Asia. Since these are business trips I usually just get an e-ticket through e-mail from the travel agency that does our bookings. With the iPhone and it's capabilities to display PDFs and zoom I was wondering if I have to print any of these e-tickets anymore. Why not just open the PDF on the iPhone, zoom in on the bar code and hand that to the gate agent?

Has anybody tried this? Did anybody run into any trouble?
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 04:32 AM
 
You may want to check with the airlines. I've used the iphone for e-receipts at movies and sporting events but not a flight. And haven't been abroad since September.

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Jul 21, 2008, 05:56 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
I fly quite a bit within Europe and the US, but sometimes also to Asia. Since these are business trips I usually just get an e-ticket through e-mail from the travel agency that does our bookings. With the iPhone and it's capabilities to display PDFs and zoom I was wondering if I have to print any of these e-tickets anymore. Why not just open the PDF on the iPhone, zoom in on the bar code and hand that to the gate agent?

Has anybody tried this? Did anybody run into any trouble?
I can see this working for the gate agents, but not for the security folk.

They are sometimes not the brightest bunch, and have often no grasp of technology. I would expect them to frown on you, or even suspect a terrorist in you.

-t
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 07:16 AM
 
Every time I've used a printed eticket it gets signed by various people going through security. My bet is that they wont take it. It might be fun to try though. Just print it out as usual but see if they take the iphone version first. The ticket also gets scanned by the gate agent. Is it possible to scan in iphone screen like that?
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 07:34 AM
 
Bottom line: no experience using iPhone for this, but I agree with turtle - probably work with desk agents to show them your confirmation number so they can look it up. Security agents aren't hired for their intelligence or their flexibility, so expect adherence to whatever secret, unpublished guidelines they're using that day.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 08:03 AM
 
The security agents I pass usually scan the bar code on the e-ticket. That's it. The question is then can these bar code scanners scan from a screen just as well as from paper?
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 08:08 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
The security agents I pass usually scan the bar code on the e-ticket. That's it. The question is then can these bar code scanners scan from a screen just as well as from paper?
Out of curiosity, which airports are these? I frequently fly through several of the largest airports in the US (Newark NJ, JFK, Minneapolis/St. Paul, LAX), and have never had a TSA agent scan the bar code. It has always been a comparison of the info on the ticket with my ID, then either a signature, a sticker placed on the ticket, or both.

The only time I have had the bar code scanned (which has been every time I have flown in the past 5 years) has been by the airline agent at the gate.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 08:15 AM
 
In the US it's been EWR, RDU, SFO, LAX. In Europe it's CPH, ZRH, GVA, CDG, DUS, MPX. In Asia just NRT and BJS.

I'm not sure they scanned the barcode everywhere, but they certainly did at several places. But even if they're not interested in the barcode, all the other information would be displayed on the iPhone screen as well. Name, flight, date, etc. it's all there. And the stickers I get are usually on my passport actually.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 08:23 AM
 
After googling around I came across this page.

http://gwhiz.wordpress.com/2008/04/2...g-pass-iphone/

The guy got the AA agent to accept his iPhone instead of the paper ticket. Supposedly the barcode scanner had no trouble with the screen.

And a lot of people commenting on the story here claim it has worked for them too.
http://www.tuaw.com/2008/04/22/iphon...arding-passes/

I think I'm just gonna go ahead and try it. I paid for the flight, I have a seat reservation and I have a passport to verify my identity. If that doesn't do it, sosumi.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 09:13 AM
 
Just be safe and print out a copy in case they don't bend to your wish.
MacBook Pro 13" 2.8GHz Core i7/8GB RAM/750GB Hard Drive - Mac OS X 10.7.3
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 10:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
The security agents I pass usually scan the bar code on the e-ticket. That's it. The question is then can these bar code scanners scan from a screen just as well as from paper?
You MUST be mistaken.

I have NEVER in my life seen a TSA / security person scan the barcode.

Only the gate agents do so.

-t
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 10:28 AM
 
FWIW - I use e-tickets on my Blackberry all the time to fly in USA and Canada. Never an issue. Never print anything out.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
You MUST be mistaken.
Actually I just flew out of CPH yesterday and the security guy scanned my barcode to confirm it was my ticket before letting me through the security check. Later the gate agent scanned it again before I boarded the plane.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:15 AM
 
I always print it out. Paper is the best backup for a fracked up electronic device. Given that it costs $0.05 to print a e-ticket, there really is no reason not to, considering you're bound to run into braindead gate agents from time to time.

Also, I keep a copy of the booking # separately just in case, sometimes along with a second copy of the e-ticket in another pocket or whatever.

Why?

1) I've lost a copy of my printed e-ticket before.
2) I've had an electronic device not power up before.

It never hurts to have multiple backups.


Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Actually I just flew out of CPH yesterday and the security guy scanned my barcode to confirm it was my ticket before letting me through the security check. Later on the gate agent then scanned it again before I boarded the plane.
Well, you've answered your own question right there then.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:17 AM
 
As a frequent flyer, I concur that I've never seen TSA security scan the barcode on a boarding pass. But, as someone above mentioned, they do often initial or mark the boarding pass to indicate that they've seen it. No idea whether they would require anything for that.

I would probably print out a paper boarding pass and tuck it in my bag just to be safe. Just until the phone versions become more prevalent.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:20 AM
 
I get the impression it depends on the airport and the authority. Just because TSA handles it one way at JFK doesn't mean Jack when it comes to what the people at NRT or any European airport will do.

I see no reason why I should go through the trouble of finding a printer to print out a PDF I can just as well show on my display. I'll try it out as soon as I get my next chance.
( Last edited by Simon; Jul 21, 2008 at 11:28 AM. )
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:22 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Well, you've answered your own question right there then.
Not at all. I showed him paper. I want to know what happens when I show him an iPhone. Apart from pcryan5's post, not much first hand experience reported. I guess I'll just have to try it out myself.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:26 AM
 
Originally Posted by giggs11 View Post
As a frequent flyer, I concur that I've never seen TSA security scan the barcode on a boarding pass. But, as someone above mentioned, they do often initial or mark the boarding pass to indicate that they've seen it. No idea whether they would require anything for that.

I would probably print out a paper boarding pass and tuck it in my bag just to be safe. Just until the phone versions become more prevalent.
Well, the boarding pass isn't necessarily the same thing as an e-ticket.

You may show your e-ticket to the agent, but then get a second boarding pass. What I've done before is show the agent absolute nothing, but just quote them a confirmation number, and then they print a boarding pass.

Some agents definitely do prefer working from paper though.


Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Not at all. I showed him paper. I want to know what happens when I show him an iPhone. Apart from pcryan5's post, not much first hand experience reported. I guess I'll just have to try it out myself.
I've verbally given confirmation numbers before. I've also shown confirmation numbers in a text message from my previous phone. I can definitely tell you that some agents simply don't like that. It usually works, but some much prefer having the printed paper in front of their eyes. If you don't show it to them, some may ask for it.

Personally, I think you're just asking for trouble or inconvenience if you don't print a paper copy just in case. Hardcopies trump electronics in stuff like this.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:32 AM
 
Yeah, I should clarify. By e-ticket I wasn't talking about the email with a confirmation number. I was talking about the actual PDF boarding pass I get after completing a web check-in. It's a confirmed seat reservation and takes me all the way to my seat on the plane. I don't swap this for a paper boarding pass.

In the case of an email with reservation number you don't need to show them anything actually. If you show up at the check-in desk, tell them which flight and show them a passport they'll give you the boarding pass. They will just look up your name w/o the need for a reservation number. I've done that several times.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Yeah, I should clarify. By e-ticket I wasn't talking about the email with a confirmation number. I was talking about the actual PDF boarding pass I get after completing a web check-in. It's a confirmed seat reservation and takes me all the way to my seat on the plane. I don't swap this for a paper boarding pass.
In that case definitely print it. Gate agents will sometimes mark notes on the boarding pass.

I think it's false economy to save 5 cents on a printed boarding pass.

In the case of an email with reservation number you don't need to show them anything actually. If you show up at the check-in desk, tell them which flight and show them a passport they'll give you the boarding pass. They will just look up your name w/o the need for a reservation number. I've done that several times.
So have I. In fact I said so in the post right above yours. However, like I said, I've also been asked for a paper e-ticket before, and I've also had a phone die on me too because it was out of power.

You can never predict how wonky a specific airport will be, or how grumpy an agent will be... Just print the thing.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 11:58 AM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Actually I just flew out of CPH yesterday and the security guy scanned my barcode to confirm it was my ticket before letting me through the security check.
Must be a new thing then.

I have not seen this ever. As a matter of fact, I have never seen the security personnel even having access to a computer system, other than what's connected to the X-ray machine.

And for sure, not many act like they even understand what a computer is.

-t
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 12:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
I think it's false economy to save 5 cents on a printed boarding pass.
It's not about five cents. It's about wasting time trying to locate a printer to print the stupid boarding pass. I'm gonna go ahead, try this and find out how far I get.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 12:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
It's not about five cents. It's about wasting time trying to locate a printer to print the stupid boarding pass. I'm gonna go ahead, try this and find out how far I get.
Airport kiosk for self check-in.

Or else the check-desk in departures.

It won't hurt to try it, but I'd get a paper boarding pass anyways just in case for your first try.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 01:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Airport kiosk for self check-in.

Or else the check-desk in departures.
Long lines and even more waiting? No thanks. I already have a boarding pass. I just need to be able to show it to them on my screen rather than on paper.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 02:32 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Long lines and even more waiting? No thanks. I already have a boarding pass. I just need to be able to show it to them on my screen rather than on paper.
Yes, good luck with that.

Just try it and report back.

-t
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 02:42 PM
 
Will do. As soon as the new iPhone arrives.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 03:51 PM
 
I've used my iPhone to check in at the self-service kiosks at Hartsfield without issue - the scanner reads the barcode just fine. Never tried just using the web check-in and emailed boarding pass tho'. Not sure that would work, as you're supposed to show your boarding pass to the security guy/gal after you walk thru the metal detector (that's how it works at Hartsfield, anyway) and I"m sure the iPhone would set that off...
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 04:45 PM
 
Just give the agents your iPhone and you'll be allowed to board the plane.................right?!
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 05:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by rickey939 View Post
Just give the agents your iPhone and you'll be allowed to board the plane.................right?!
That's what I'll try to do. I'll let you know how that works out.

We all know eventually that's how these things will work. The question is just when this will become regular procedure. And as far as I'm concerned I'm all ready to go.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 06:38 PM
 
Works just fine with my BlackBerry flying on Continental.
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 07:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by -Q- View Post
Not sure that would work, as you're supposed to show your boarding pass to the security guy/gal after you walk thru the metal detector (that's how it works at Hartsfield, anyway) and I"m sure the iPhone would set that off...
LOL, you are right. Nobody brought that up.

You would never pass the detector with the iPhone, and w/o, they'd give you at least a big fuzz.

I learned one thing: never mess with the security monkeys. It's not worth it.
Therefore, I will stick with paper.

-t
     
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Jul 21, 2008, 08:19 PM
 
I am somewhat mystified at this discussion. The board pass is sent to your device as an email. You show that email to the security guys. (I admit it feels odd the first few times.) Your device goes through the scanner along with your laptop and shoes. It works just fine. I hate trying to find a printer in City X of day Y of a trip.

<>Therefore, I will stick with paper.

Surely we are not Luddites!

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Jul 21, 2008, 10:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by pcryan5 View Post
I am somewhat mystified at this discussion. The board pass is sent to your device as an email. You show that email to the security guys. (I admit it feels odd the first few times.) Your device goes through the scanner along with your laptop and shoes. It works just fine. I hate trying to find a printer in City X of day Y of a trip.
Dude, are you speaking out of experience ? Have you actually TRIED it ?

Because from all my flying experience, I don't see the security guys being that flexible.

I have NEVER seen them check the boarding pass BEFORE you enter the scanner, only once you are through. So you can't just bring along your iphone, and then put it back on the conveyor for the x-raying.

I'm not interest in people telling me how nice and wonderful (and easy) it all could or should be.

My experiencing in the last years is that security personnel are stubborn as a donkey can be, and if something deviates from what they have been indoctrinated with in their training, they will not suddenly be all cheerful and flexible.

-t
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 12:34 AM
 
Yes as per my previous post "FWIW - I use e-tickets on my Blackberry all the time to fly in USA and Canada. Never an issue. Never print anything out."

I fly 2-3 times a month. No issues to date.
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 01:29 AM
 
My recent experience with paperless boarding ended when I reached the airport (WestJet, YYZ-YVR). The security guards wouldn't allow me to get through unless I presented the paper boarding pass. I showed them an electronic copy of the boarding pass which was sent to me via SMS. No go. I was told to go to the self-service kiosk and check in (which I already have). So off to the kiosk and print out the boarding pass, this time a paper one with a big label of "RE-ISSUED".

I suppose this is airline/airport dependent, but worst case scenario is you'll always be able to get one again provided you have proper identification (e.g. driver's license, passport, etc).
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 02:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Dude, are you speaking out of experience ?
Turtle, how about you shut it for a moment and listen.

Pcryan5 is actually one of about only three people who actually offered their own firsthand experience on what I asked about. Many people came here to offer their opinion on paperless traveling or their feeling about what might happen. Not really what I was interested in. This guy OTOH actually posted what he had done and how it worked out. That was actually valuable information. That was what this thread was about.

Your post, although I'm sure it jacked up your post count once again, didn't offer any value to my thread. So, either post something worth our time or shut up, but stop attacking the few who actually contribute something of value here.
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 10:12 AM
 
Does anyone have experience presenting "frequent shopper's cards" from their iPhone at check-out? I've scanned a couple of them and planned on trying it out at one store last night but they didn't have the items I was looking for.

QS
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 10:35 AM
 
I have not done this at the airport.

I have done this at Macworld SF 2008. My experience was that their barcode reader was unable to scan the code. This due to two possibilities: one, the glossy screen interfered with the laser. Two, the barcode was not to the scale that the reader needed, and zooming it wasn't getting it there. Remember, when you do this, you're trying the patience of the person with the scanner and the people in line behind you.

These problems may still exist when you attempt to do it at an airport, a setting which has a lower tolerance for slowing down lines.

As for discount cards, I printed them using http://www.justoneclubcard.com/
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 01:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Turtle, how about you shut it for a moment and listen.

Pcryan5 is actually one of about only three people who actually offered their own firsthand experience on what I asked about. Many people came here to offer their opinion on paperless traveling or their feeling about what might happen. Not really what I was interested in. This guy OTOH actually posted what he had done and how it worked out. That was actually valuable information. That was what this thread was about.

Your post, although I'm sure it jacked up your post count once again, didn't offer any value to my thread. So, either post something worth our time or shut up, but stop attacking the few who actually contribute something of value here.
WTF are you getting so worked up ? If you want someone to shut up, do it yourself.

The e-ticket is NOT the issue, the boarding pass is.

I don't doubt that an electronic version of the e-ticket works to get you a PAPER version of the boarding pass at the check-in kiosk.

What I doubt to work is to use a electronic version of the boarding pass that you receive through online check in.

Pcryan5 experience goes totally against all I have seen in any US airport I have been to.
His claim, using it for US flights, also goes against what AirCanada says on its web site:

http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelin...obile/mci.html

"Mobile Boarding Pass: Excluding US flights"

And apparently, Lifehacker is on the same page as I am:
http://lifehacker.com/372535/use-you...-boarding-pass

Note: Check-in != passing security

Yes, they mention Continental to allow to pass security w/o a paper boarding pass.
But there's gotta be very few Continental-only security check points in the US, probably only in the major hubs.

-t
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 01:30 PM
 
Ok, one more thing:

That it works with AirCanada is an EXCEPTION. AirCanada's system is part of a trial run.

"The system is part of a trial run on Air Canada now, but experts note it could take another few years for the system to be adopted in the U.S."

http://tech.yahoo.com/blog/null/51836

So, Pcryan5 experience is not representative, and he doesn't even realize that he took advantage of a trial system.

I was right right that it doesn't work to pass security in the US and for US flights.

YOU, Simon, owe me an apology.

-t
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 02:24 PM
 
Forget it. Nothing of the sort. You are crapping in my thread and attacking people who have actually tried answering the questions I've raised. So I ask you once again to either contribute something meaningful or get out of my thread.
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 02:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Simon View Post
Forget it. Nothing of the sort. You are crapping in my thread and attacking people who have actually tried answering the questions I've raised. So I ask you once again to either contribute something meaningful or get out of my thread.
Crapping your thread ?edit
Did I NOT answer your questions ?
Did I not show that Pcryan5 experience is NOT representative, and actually only luck because he happens to fly AirCanada all the time ?
edit
-t
( Last edited by vmarks; Jul 22, 2008 at 06:24 PM. Reason: ahem.)
     
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Jul 22, 2008, 06:24 PM
 
Move along. Keep the thread on topic.
     
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Jul 23, 2008, 02:45 AM
 
vmarks, thank you.

So let me summarize actual airport experience people so far have reported.

• In the article I linked to it worked with AA from San Antonio to Dallas
• pcryan5 uses only his Blackberry in the US and Canada - airlines, airports?
• -Q- has used his iPhone at Hartsfield, but only to get a printed boarding pass at the self-service kiosk
• mduell uses his Blackberry with Continental - airports?
• ginoledesma couldn't get it to work at YYZ with Westjet; he was sent to the self-service kiosks by security

Any more reports from European or Asian airports? In my experience the TSA is less flexible than security people at European airports.
     
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Jul 23, 2008, 08:50 AM
 
My experience, which does not even relate to attempting to use the phone for tickets or boarding passes is:

The TSOs behavior is inconsistent from airport to airport. On the evolution of security blog that the TSA runs, there's mention that this is a good thing because it keeps people guessing.

That said, do we have anyone who has tried to use the phone and run into difficulty with the TSA?
     
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Jul 23, 2008, 10:30 AM
 
<>pcryan5 uses only his Blackberry in the US and Canada - airlines, airports?

WestJet - Air Canada - Continental - Vancouver - small Canadian airports - LA - Las Vegas - Orlando - Chicago
     
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Jul 27, 2008, 09:01 AM
 
So I flew out of CPH on Friday evening. There's a security point before you reach the X-ray machines where they want to check all tickets. I had used FileMagnet to put the PDF boarding pass on my iPhone. Zoomed in the bar code and handed the lady the phone. She was about to ask for my ticket when she saw the bar code and said "is this one of these new iPhones?". I told her it was and that I was curious if her scanner could read the bar code off the screen. She seemed eager to find out too so she swiped the phone in front of her scanner and presto, it scanned.

She thought that was quite cool actually. Her colleague from the other scanning station came over and asked if he could try it too and I handed him the iPhone. They said hey had never had anybody try this, but they both though it was a great idea "to save the trees". Just because this was unusual she asked if she could call her supervisor and check with him. I said sure and waited. After a while she asked if I could zoom out and show her the whole ticket so she could see the Airline name and that the name on the PDF ticket was the same as her scanner had read in. It was. She hung up and told me her supervisor had mentioned there was so far no official policy about what to do. Basically if the scanner scans the ticket and she can see the whole ticket so she can verify that all the information matches it would be ok. I proceeded to the x-ray machines and to the gate.

So good news for CPH.
     
Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Vancouver, BC
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Jul 27, 2008, 12:15 PM
 
....CPH - Copenhagen? What airline (I almost hesitate to ask!).
thanks for the update.
     
Simon  (op)
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Jul 27, 2008, 04:11 PM
 
Yep, Copenhagen-Düsseldorf with Air Berlin.
     
Posting Junkie
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Seattle, Washington
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Jul 27, 2008, 10:29 PM
 
Use this only as a last resort. If you have a grouchy ticketing agent, they'll feel no need to accept it. Also, if you are technically inclined enough to have an iPhone, there is no reason not to just check in online and print your boarding pass on your own.
     
 
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