Fully Baked — the Airline App

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Almost two years ago, I wrote about the Fallacy of Electronic Boarding Passes. I’m happy to say that there’s been progress and innovation in this area since then.

I used to prefer having a physical boarding pass because it:

  • Didn’t have issues being scanned
  • Could allow me to use my phone while waiting in line to have my boarding pass scanned
  • Was less likely to be a concern if my phone ran out of battery

Having taken at least 22 flights this month, I’m now convinced that the airline app on Android — at least for United, Delta, and Air Canada — is fully baked and I prefer it to web and paper boarding passes.

So what’s changed? (from my experience with the Air Canada app on Android)

  • The app doesn’t crash
  • The boarding pass is available even when the app is offline
  • It provides upgrade / standby waitlist placement (Air Canada doesn’t provide this information at a gate display like United)
  • The checkin process retains information previously provided
  • The load time is quick
  • It provides system notifications when the flight is boarding (sometimes), if there’s a gate or status change, or other information

Compared to the connectivity to printers during travel, the airline mobile apps have advanced much more. Trying to print a boarding pass at a hotel is a crapshoot.

It took about 10 years for the experience of a mobile boarding pass to work as intended. Can we create and apply a 10 year rule to other technologies? What will the Echo look like in 2022 (10 years after the Ubi)? What about the first consumer available self-driving car in 2024 (Tesla released Autopilot four years ago)? What else?

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