Airline Apps and Boarding Passes

When I got my smartphone in December, I was very excited to find the free apps from all my favorite airlines such as Alaska, American and Delta.  Even Southwest, United and others have apps for both the iPhone and Android models.

There is a lot of convenience to these apps.  If you fly often as I do, download the ones for the airlines you regularly use.  If you only fly now and then or are using a different airline for this trip only, download the app and then delete it once you are home.  This way you still have the convenience but are not using memory space or cluttering your menu screens with something you only need now and then.

What is convenient about the apps?  You can book flights, make changes, get seat assignments and more.  You can get up to date information about your flight, delays, sometimes even the gate though you are always safer to confirm this detail on a monitor at the terminal.  Many have a “notes” section where you can input where you left your car in the garage, which off-site lot you used, a name and phone number of who is picking you up or other important information.

Because you can make changes to your flights and even your seating using the apps, this can come in handy if you have a flight change while traveling and need to rebook.

You can also use the apps to check in for your flight, indicate and pay for checked bags (but since you read this blog you won’t need to do that) and even get electronic boarding passes.  As close to the 24 hour mark before your flight as possible, you should use the app and check in.  Just like checking in on a computer, this locks you into your seat on the flight and reduces the likelihood you will get bumped if the flight is oversold.

The screen of your phone will display your electronic boarding pass and it looks much like the QR codes you have seen popping up everywhere.  I love technology but be aware, these electronic boarding passes are not all they are cracked up to be.

1. Not all systems are compatible.  I used the Alaska Airlines app and the size of the code on the boarding pass was too large for the TSA scanner at SeaTac to read – yes, SeaTac, Alaska’s home airport!  I had to find another on-line way to check in rather than the app itself in order to get a compatible size “code”.

2.Some smaller airports don’t have scanning equipment and even those that do don’t have it at every security checkpoint.  Plus, like all equipment, it’s subject to failure so what works one day may be out of commission the next.

3. Your phone probably goes into sleep mode.  Depending on the app, it can take several steps or a couple of minutes to bring it back up which can cause stress when in line and I’m all about “hassle/stress free travel”.

Bottom line:  use the apps.  They are great and can save you the hassles of either firing up your laptop or going to the hotel’s business center.  Get the electronic boarding pass on your phone but don’t plan on using it.  When you get to the airport, stop by a kiosk and print a paper boarding pass for the speediest path through security and onto your flight.

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