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Boarding pass

File:Qantas boarding pass.JPG
Modern Boarding Pass for Qantas domestic
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Modern boarding pass for travel between Gotham and Metropolis
File:TS boarding pass April 2000.jpg
An older non-computerized Air Transat boarding pass from 2000.
File:Mobile boarding pass KLM.JPG
A mobile boarding pass and a printed boarding pass from 2010.

A boarding pass is a document provided by an airline during check-in, giving a passenger permission to board the airplane for a particular flight. As 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. The paper boarding pass (and ticket, if any), or portions, are sometimes collected and counted for cross-check of passenger counts by gate agents, but more frequently are scanned (via barcode or magnetic stripe). 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. For "connecting flights" there will be a boarding pass needed for each new flight (distinguished by a different flight number) regardless of whether a different aircraft is boarded.

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.

Mobile boarding passes


Many airlines have moved to issuing electronic boarding passes, whereby the passenger checks in either online or on a mobile device, and the boarding pass is then sent to the mobile device as a SMS or e-mail. Upon completing an online reservation, client can tick a box offering for 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 check in online, or use an airline app to check in and the boarding pass will appear within the application.[1][2]

The mobile pass is equipped with the same bar code that a standard paper boarding pass would be, and it is completely machine readable. The gate attendant simply scans the code displayed on the phone.[3]

Airlines on board

In 2007 Continental Airlines (now United) was the first started testing Mobile boarding passes. Now most of the major carriers offer mobile boarding passes at many airports.[3]

Airlines that issue electronic boarding passes include Qatar Airways, Air India, United Airlines, AirAsia (The first airline to introduce SMS boarding passes), Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, WestJet (the first in North America to do so), Cathay Pacific Airways, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Jetstar Airways, Iberia, US Airways, British Airways , KLM (selected destinations only), Aer Lingus, Turkish Airlines, Qantas (domestic market), EasyJet and Ryanair


  • Practical : Travelers don’t always have access to a printer, so choosing a mobile boarding pass eliminates the hassle of stopping at a kiosk at the airport.
  • Ecological: It is also much more environmentally friendly than constantly using up paper for boarding passes.


There is a risk with mobile boarding if the phone’s battery dies or there are any problems reading the e-boarding pass.[2] Using a mobile boarding pass can also be a challenge when traveling with multiple people in one reservation because not all airline apps handle multiple mobile boarding passes.[3] Some airlines, like Alaska Airlines, do allow you to switch between multiple boarding passes within their apps.

Print at home boarding passes

A print-at-home boarding pass is a document that travellers are able to 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.

Many airlines encourage travellers to check in online up to a month before their flight, and print their boarding pass before arriving at the airport. Some carriers offer incentives for doing so (US Airways offered 1000 bonus miles to anyone checking in online,[4] while others charge fees for checking in or printing the boarding pass at the airport.[5]


  • Cost efficient for the airline - Passengers print their own boarding pass reducing airline and airport staff and infrastructure costs for check-in [6]
  • Time-saving - save passengers time as they are able to bypass the check-in queue


  • Passengers have to remember to check-in in advance of their flight
  • Passengers need to have access to a printer and provide for the paper and ink themselves. This can be difficult to find while travelling away from home, although some airlines have responded by allowing passengers to check-in further in advance.[7][8]

Print-at-home boarding pass advertising

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.[9]

When travellers print their boarding pass at home, their boarding pass displays adverts that have been chosen specifically for them 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.[10]

Providers of Print-at-home boarding pass advertising

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 it’s advertiser partners.

Advantages of Print-at-home boarding pass advertising

  • Ability to use targeted advertising technologies to target messaging to relevant demographics and routes - providing travellers with offers that are likely to be relevant and useful
  • High engagement level – research by the Global Passenger Survey has shown that on average, travellers look at their boarding pass over four times across 12 keytouch points in their journey [11]
  • The revenues airlines gain from advertising can help to offset operating costs and reduce ticket price rises for passengers

Concerns of Print-at-home boarding pass advertising

  • Some passengers find the advertising intrusive [12]
  • The advertising uses additional quantities of the passengers ink when printing at home

See also


External links