Air travel gets 'smarter'
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A mobile boarding-pass reader went into operation Thursday at Charleston's Yeager Airport, allowing travelers to scan smartphone images of the bar code for their boarding passes at the Transportation Security Administration gate, dispensing with the need to carry paper boarding passes or have them printed at the check-in counter.
So far, the service is available only to travelers flying on United Airlines, but all carriers at the airport will be able to use the system once they link data to it and train employees in its use.
"The business travelers in particular will like it, because they can come straight to the TSA gate and check in, assuming they're traveling with carryon bags only," said Brian Belcher, Yeager's marketing director."
"You won't have to fumble around for paper boarding passes," said Anthony Gilmer, the airport's marketing and air service development coordinator.
Yeager is one of the smallest airports in the nation now making use of mobile boarding-pass readers, according to Rick Atkinson, director of the Charleston airport, "but you're starting to see them all over. So far, there are about 100 airports using them."
The new system allows smartphone owners using airline apps to have QR codes for boarding passes automatically sent to their phones. Airlines also can email the codes to ticketed passengers with smartphones without airline apps.
"We have had many requests to have mobile boarding-pass readers installed here; so has the TSA staff," Belcher said. "Even though the word hasn't gotten out yet that the system is operational here, people are already using it."
The airlines pay for the new equipment, which is operated by TSA personnel. A second mobile boarding-pass reader is expected to be operational at Yeager's TSA screening area within the next few days.
All airlines serving the airport are expected to be connected to the system in the next few months.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5169.