Continental Airlines passengers in Houston will be able to board flights using just a cellphone or personal-digital assistant instead of a regular boarding pass in a three-month test program launched Tuesday at Bush Intercontinental Airport. The program could expand to airlines and airports nationwide.
Instead of a paper pass, Continental Airlines (CAL) and the Transportation Security Administration will let passengers show a code the airline has sent to their cellphone or PDA.
The two-dimensional bar code, a jumble of squares and rectangles, stores the passenger's name and flight information. A TSA screener will confirm the bar code's authenticity with a handheld scanner. Passengers still need to show photo identification. The electronic boarding pass also works at airport gates.
If a passenger's cellphone or mobile device loses power, the passenger can get a paper boarding pass from a kiosk or a Continental agent.
Houston-based Continental, the USA's No. 4 airline, has been working on the new feature for years to increase the efficiency, eliminate paperwork and make travel easier, says Mark Bergsrud, a Continental executive.