TSA unveils paperless, cell phone-based boarding pass system at SFO

hero-digital-boarding-pass-continentalAlthough not the first of its kind (in fact there are similar programs operating at 29 other U.S. airports, and in Europe), the newly announced paperless boarding pass system at San Francisco International Airport allows passengers to download their “ticket” onto their mobile device, be it a cell phone or PDA, by visiting a secure link that is e-mailed to them after booking a flight.

According to the San Jose Mercury News:

At the terminal entrance, TSA officers scan the passenger’s cell phone or PDA device at a small kiosk, which validates a two-dimensional, tamper-proof bar code included on the traveler’s paperless ticket. The passenger then shows a government-issued ID card to the TSA agent to gain entrance to the boarding area.

The TSA has three cell phone-reading kiosks at SFO, at a cost of about $2,000 each.

At the time of this posting, the only airline to sign on to this new, more eco-friendly, supposedly more efficient service at SFO is Continental Airlines, which services a little more than 5% of SFO’s passengers. According to Continental, so far, so good…there have been no issues reported so far with the program at SFO, and if there was an issue, it would simply be resolved by a customers service rep printing out a paper pass at one of the check-in kiosks.

This modern, Jetson-like system is still very much in its infancy. Only five other carriers are currently signed up for the digital boarding pass system across the other 29 participating airports, but the TSA has high hopes to sign up additional carriers and attract more passengers to use this 21st century service over the coming months.