Travel Technology

Can your cell phone be your boarding pass?

Cell phones are already the ticket to mobile communication, but before long, they’ll be your airline ticket as well.

Cell phones are already the ticket to mobile communication, but before long, they’ll be your airline ticket as well.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) just announced a global standard that will eventually allow passengers to check in for flights using a bar code sent to their cell phones.

This International Herald Tribune article goes into more detail, but here are the basics of how it will work when widespread adoption goes into effect in 2010: When you book your flight, you’ll register your cell phone number and then receive a text message containing a bar code that will serve as your boarding pass. During check-in, a scanner will read the bar code directly off your cell phone screen. According to an article on the topic, passengers will also have the option of receiving the bar code by email and printing it out. This is all part of a plan to phase out those old-time paper tickets.

When this happens, my favorite walking-out-the-door mantra of “tickets, passport, money,” is going to need some revising.

By Christine Sarkis

There's a 95 percent chance Senior Editor Christine Sarkis is thinking about travel right now. Follow her on Instagram @postcartography and Twitter @ChristineSarkis.

Christine Sarkis is an SATW-award-winning journalist and executive editor at SmarterTravel. Her stories have also appeared on USA Today, Conde Nast Traveler, Huffington Post, and Business Insider. Her advice has been featured in dozens of print and online publications including The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and People magazine. She has also shared travel tips on television and radio shows including Good Morning America, Marketplace, and Here & Now. Her work has been published in the anthologies Spain from a Backpack and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2008. She is currently working on a travel memoir.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: The Trtl Pillow. It's easy to pack and comfortable, and makes it so I can actually sleep on flights.

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Seeing the Aurora Borealis from the comfort of somewhere warm, like a glass igloo or hot spring.

Travel Motto: Curiosity is an amazing compass.

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: Aisle all the way.

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