As if we needed yet another reason to be dependent upon our BlackBerries, along comes the airline industry demonstrating its commitment to the idea that handhelds and cellphones can be used as electronic boarding passes. Ok, ok -- it is much more convenient. Just make sure you detach the BlackBerry from your fingers, at least during the flight.According to The New York Times, "At least half a dozen airlines in the United States currently allow customers to check in using their mobile devices, including American, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest and Alaska. But so far, Continental is the only carrier in the United States to begin testing the electronic passes, allowing those travelers to pass through security and board the plane without handling a piece of paper. Their boarding pass is an image of an encrypted bar code displayed on the phone's screen, which can be scanned by gate agents and security personnel."
For all you road warriors out there, this is good, good news. Imagine racing through the airport not carrying a piece of paper that is flapping in your hands but carrying instead your trusty old BlackBerry, which, you are probably carrying anyway to check your messages before you board your flight.
It could be though, that this is only the beginning. According to the NYT, the way things are going, your mobile device will soon be the hub of your travel experience. "The mobile check-in may well be the first step in direct communications between airlines and passengers as they travel. Ultimately, Henry H. Harteveldt, a vice president with Forrester Research, said he expected airlines would use mobile messaging to communicate with passengers about on-board services, rebooking options, baggage pickup and ticket purchases."
Harteveldt is quoted: "It's clear that mobile is the gateway to how airlines will interact with their customers in the future for almost anything."
Almost, that is, until they figure out how to get BlackBerries to dispense little bags of peanuts.