November 4, 2008
The TSA and Continental Airlines launched paperless boarding pass capabilities at LaGuardia Airport this week, bringing the number of airports to host the service to ten. Alaska Airlines, Delta and Northwest are also trialing mobile boarding pass technology.
There are a host of technical considerations behind the scenes for bar-code boarding passes, including the global encryption standards that were adopted last year by IATA — the International Air Transport Association. IATA expects all airlines to be bar-code-boarding-pass capable by the end of the year and the TSA has stated it sees tremendous potential for paperless boarding passes.
In a survey we conducted at JupiterResearch earlier this year, we found that 18% of online travelers are interested in being able to check in for a flight using their mobile device. This number increases to 27 percent among business travelers.
Certainly the airlines see value in establishing their brand as innovative as well as realizing some airport traffic flow benefit. But that won’t be what drives traveler adoption. Travelers will adopt technology where they see its value. And while there is some value in not having to obtain or produce a piece of paper, that alone is not a compelling force to try something new. The value of so-called paperless boarding will be speed and convenience, which will require confidence in the technology, the ability to make fees payments via mobile or phone, and seamless support from airline staff. At least, that is what customer-centric value is. But that�s not something we hear a lot from the beleaguered airlines these days.