Boarding passes have come a long way. Once upon a time (circa 2005), they were issued by hand at the airport check-in desk. Inventory and seat allocation were handled manually, either handwritten or with stickers.
In 2008, boarding passes graduated from the Stone Age and became fully electronic. And in 2010, 2D bar-coded technology further modernized them, replacing the previous generation of expensive and less-efficient magnetic-stripe boarding passes. Among other things, this allowed passengers to check-in online and print their boarding passes at home.
Mobile boarding passes mark the current chapter in our coming-of-age story. Growing adoption of smartphones and tablets by passengers, coupled with declining sales of home printers, is helping to drive this trend.
Near-field communications (NFC), the next generation of mobile boarding technology, is already a reality. Air France, Orange Business Services, SITA, Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and RESA joined forces to provide the first seamless boarding experience in Europe with NFC technology.
NFC was already present on almost every new smartphone previously – with one glaring exception: Apple. Now that Apple is finally embracing it – making it available on iPhone 6, 6 Plus and the Apple Watch – NFC will emerge as the technology of choice, completing the Flintstones-to-Jetsons evolution in just a few short years.
Learn more about the evolution of boarding passes in the latest issue of the Air Transport IT Review.