A boarding pass is a document provided by an airline during check-in, giving a passenger permission to enter the restricted area of an airport and to board the airplane for a particular flight. At a minimum, it identifies the passenger, the flight number, and the date and scheduled time for departure. In some cases, flyers can check in online and print the boarding passes themselves. A boarding pass may be required for a passenger to enter a secure area of an airport.
Generally, a passenger with an electronic ticket will only need a boarding pass. If a passenger has a paper airline ticket, that ticket (or flight coupon) may be required to be attached to the boarding pass for him or her to board the aircraft. For "connecting flights", a boarding pass is required for each new leg (distinguished by a different flight number), regardless of whether a different aircraft is boarded or not.
The paper boarding pass (and ticket, if any), or portions thereof, are sometimes collected and counted for cross-check of passenger counts by gate agents, but more frequently are scanned (via barcode or magnetic strip). The standards for bar codes and magnetic stripes on boarding passes are published by IATA. The bar code standard (BCBP) defines the 2D bar code printed on paper boarding passes or sent to mobile phones for electronic boarding passes. The magnetic stripe standard (ATB2) expired in 2010.
Most airports and airlines have automatic readers that will verify the validity of the boarding pass at the jetway door or boarding gate. This also automatically updates the airline's database that shows the passenger has boarded and the seat is used, and that the checked baggage for that passenger may stay aboard. This speeds up the paperwork process at the gate, but requires passengers with paper tickets to check in, surrender the ticket, and receive the digitized boarding pass.
BCBP (bar-coded boarding pass) is the name of the standard used by more than 200 airlines. BCBP defines the 2-Dimensional (2D) bar code printed on a boarding pass or sent to a mobile phone for electronic boarding passes.
BCBP was part of the IATA Simplifying the Business program, which issued an industry mandate for all boarding passes to be bar coded. This was achieved in 2010.
Airlines and third parties use a barcode reader to read the bar codes and capture the data. Reading the bar code usually takes place in the boarding process, but can also happen when entering the airport security checkpoints.
The standard was originally published in 2005 by IATA and updated in 2008 to include symbologies for mobile phones and in 2009 to include a field for a digital signature in the mobile bar codes. Future developments of the standard will include a near field communication format.
In recent years concerns have been raised both to the security of the boarding pass bar-codes, the data they contain and the PNR (Passenger Name Record) data that they link to. Some airline bar-codes can be scanned by mobile phone applications to reveal names, dates of birth, source and destination airports and the PNR locator code. This code is a 6-digit alphanumeric code also sometimes referred to as a booking reference number. This code plus the surname of the traveller can be used to login to the airline's website and access information on the traveller.
Paper boarding passes are issued either by agents at a check-in counter, self-service kiosks, or by airline web check-in site. BCBP can be printed at the airport by an ATB (Automated Ticket & Boarding Pass) printer or a direct thermal printer, or by a personal laser printer. The symbology for paper boarding passes is PDF417. IATA's Board of Governors' mandate stated that all the IATA member airlines would be capable of issuing BCBP by the end of 2008, and all boarding passes would contain the 2D bar code by the end of 2010. The BCBP standard were published in 2005. It has been progressively adopted by airlines: End 2005, 9 airlines were BCBP capable; 32 by end 2006; 101 by end 2007; and 200 by end 2008 (source: IATA).
Electronic boarding passes were 'the industry's next major technological innovation after e-ticketing'. According to SITA's Airline IT Trend Survey 2009, mobile BCBP accounted for 2.1% of use (vs. paper boarding passes), forecast rising to 11.6% in 2012.[needs update]
Many airlines have moved to issuing electronic boarding passes, whereby the passenger checks in either online or via a mobile device, and the boarding pass is then sent to the mobile device as an SMS or e-mail. Upon completing an online reservation, the passenger can tick a box offering a mobile boarding pass. Most carriers offer two ways to get it: have one sent to mobile device (via e-mail or text message) when checking in online, or use an airline app to check in, and the boarding pass will appear within the application.
The mobile pass is equipped with the same bar code as a standard paper boarding pass, and it is completely machine readable. The gate attendant simply scans the code displayed on the phone. IATA's BCBP standard defines the three symbologies accepted for mobile phones: Aztec code, Datamatrix and QR code. The United Nations International Telecommunications Union expected mobile phone subscribers to hit the 4 billion mark by the end of 2008.
In 2007, Continental Airlines (now United) first began testing mobile boarding passes. Now, most of the major carriers offer mobile boarding passes at many airports. Airlines that issue electronic boarding passes include:
In Europe, Lufthansa was one of the first airlines to launch Mobile BCBP in April 2008. In the US, the Transportation Security Administration runs a pilot program of a Boarding Pass Scanning System, using the IATA BCBP standard.
A print-at-home boarding pass is a document that a traveller can print at home, at their office, or anywhere with an Internet connection and printer, giving them permission to board an airplane for a particular flight.
British Airways CitiExpress, the first to pioneer this self-service initiative, piloted it on its London City Airport routes to minimize queues at check-in desks, in 1999. The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) approved the introduction of the 3D boarding pass in February 2000. Early adoption with passengers was slow, except for Business Travellers. However, the advent of low-cost carriers that charged for not using print-at-home boarding passes was the catalyst to shift consumers away from traditional at-airport check-in functions.
Many airlines encourage travellers to check in online up to a month before their flight and obtain their boarding pass before arriving at the airport. Some carriers offer incentives for doing so (e.g., in 2015, US Airways offered 1000 bonus miles to anyone checking in online,), while others charge fees for checking in or printing one's boarding pass at the airport.
In a bid to boost ancillary revenue from other sources of in-flight advertising, many airlines have turned to targeted advertising technologies aimed at passengers from their departure city to their destination.
Print-at-home boarding passes display adverts chosen specifically for given travellers based on their anonymised passenger information, which does not contain any personally identifiable data. Advertisers are able to target specific demographic information (age range, gender, nationality) and route information (origin and destination of flight). The same technology can also be used to serve advertising on airline booking confirmation emails, itinerary emails, and pre-departure reminders.
Ink is a leader in travel media and technology providing over 20 targeted advertising options across print-at-home boarding passes for over 12 airline partners and its advertiser partners.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Boarding passes of airlines.|