Using Passbook for Boarding a Flight

On my trip to Berlin for the Scala Days conference, I used Passbook for the first time to store my boarding pass. I thought it would be interesting to share this first paperless boarding experience with you.

When I did the check-in on Swiss’ website the day before my flight, I chose to receive the boarding pass electronically. In the e-mail I got, there was a Passbook file, which I opened with my iPhone. The Passbook app was started and showed the boarding pass. On it there were a couple of information like the boarding time, flight number, seat, and a large 2D-code shown up.

When I arrived at the airport, I asked someone if I needed to go through the self check-in, since I did not receive any luggage sticker yet. Fortunately it was not needed. I could go directly to the luggage drop-off. It was a fair amount of time saved for me. The queue at the luggage drop-off was fair to quite large, but fortunately things were moving at a sustained pace there. After having dropped my bag, it was time to pass the security check. Before that, I had to scan the 2D code to get into the passenger only zone. It was a bit strange to scan my phone display while most of the other passengers had their paper slip processed. But things went smoothly.

The first time I felt the need to grab the — backup — paper boarding pass was when I was in the duty free zone. I wanted to check which gate I was supposed to embark on and could not find this information in Passbook. So I digged the paper print from my bag to see that this information was also missing on it. There was apparently a large display with the gate and departure times, though I had some issue finding my flight, since it had two flight numbers at the same time, being conjointly operated by Swiss and Lufthansa.

Last but not least, I could embark, this time again, by scanning my phone display showing the boarding pass.

Overall it was a fun experience. Next time I might try it without a paper backup.

On the plus side
- Web check-in with Swiss airline quickly done in four easy steps (less time spent queuing at the airport).
- No print out of the boarding pass needed
- Passbook shows automatically the boarding pass on the iPhone lock screen while I was at the airport (that would be an advantage compared to only showing the boarding e-mail with a smartphone)

On the minus side
- Passbook locks the screen — and hides the boarding pass — after just a couple of seconds
- Watch out for the battery level, would not be cool to run out of power!
- Looks geeky — this one might be a plus point though!