Boarding passes texted to phones due to take off in UAE

Airplane passengers in the Emirates will soon be able to check in with boarding passes messaged to their mobile phones.

Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // Airplane passengers in the UAE will soon be able to check in with boarding passes texted to their mobile phones, an industry magazine has reported. Abu Dhabi and Sharjah international airports are among 1,400 worldwide to adopt the Bar Code Boarding Pass (BCBP) system, expected to be implemented in 2012, according to a study by the IT company SITA carried in Air Transport World magazine.

Boarding passes will be sent directly to a passenger's mobile phone, eliminating the need to print any documents. The passenger would just pass through a scanner that would read their "m-boarding" pass, which can be issued by SMS. Those travelling with only hand luggage will not have to queue at a counter at all. The UAE has pioneered mobile technology for so called "m-visas", a paperless entry system for those visiting from countries that are not part of the visa waiver programme.

It has also led the world in the implementation of biometric technology, such as iris scanners, e-gates and e-passports for air travellers. The introduction of automated self-serve kiosks in 2007 has doubled the number of passengers processed per hour. Rico Barandun, head of e-services at Swissport, a company that manages automated airport check-ins in Switzerland, said in the report that new technologies such as BCBP would free airports from worrying about checking-in procedures and allow them to focus on maximising entertainment and retail revenue.

The study, which also surveyed more than 2,000 passengers at six of the world's major airports, found that travellers are becoming accustomed to automated border controls, with 58 per cent reporting their experiences as positive, a nine per cent increase over 2007. However, 62 per cent said they wanted even shorter queues at border controls. Almost half - 45 per cent - were positive about the introduction of mobile check-in services.

The report's authors said the results indicated that "an initial scepticism of supplying personal data for biometric checks has been offset by the benefits of a quicker, less stressful airport experience". Almost a third of the world's airports currently offer a flight status notification system vis SMS message, a figure expected to double by 2012. The drive for further automation has been endorsed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents the industry.

IATA estimates that the switch to BCBP could save the industry up to US$1.5 billion (Dh5.5bn) a year.