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Travel Tech

The low cost airline easyJet has recently been promoting a convenient aspect of its services via a range of advertisements in the United Kingdom. The television commercials promote the convenience and user-friendliness of mobile boarding passes, and encourage customers to engage with this particular aspect of the easyJet portfolio of features.

The Convenience of Mobile Boarding Passes

Advertisements in the series depict how easy it is to misplace boarding passes, and how relatively easy it is by comparison to pass through airport security via mobile means. The commercials are the latest in a long line of promotions from a raft of airlines which focus on the relatively new idea of mobile boarding passes, and the advantages that they can offer frequent flyers in particular.

The obvious advantage of mobile boarding passes is that they enable passengers to store all travel information in one convenient place. It has also been suggested that this new technology is particularly friendly to the environment, as it is no longer necessary to print out boarding passes on physical paper. Mobile boarding passes are also equipped with the same bar code that a standard paper boarding pass would be, and it is completely machine readable. Gate attendants simply scan the code displayed on the phone, and allow passengers to advance on that basis.

Although this may seem like revolutionary and brand new technology, it is in fact nearly a decade old. In 2007, Continental Airlines (now United) was the first airline to test mobile boarding passes, and widespread commercial adoption of this process began shortly afterwards.

In many cases, mobile boarding passes can enable passengers to bypass queues in airports; thus underlining why they are becoming popular with tech-savvy individuals. How well this phenomenon will continue considering that most people could theoretically gain access to such mobile boarding passes is debatable. But even if widespread acceptance of mobile boarding passes does materialise, it still remains far more convenient than the traditional method of paper passes.

Although this is a very widespread service now, it is not yet ubiquitous. Several airports do not currently offer mobile boarding passes, so it remains essential for passengers to actually check whether the airport that they are travelling from supports this technology.

Widespread Adoption

However, easyJet is certainly not the only airline currently utilising this technology. Most major airlines are now developing mobile boarding pass applications with the intention of offering an improved service to passengers. There are also commercial opportunities for airlines via this technology, as signposting consumers to other facets of their operation via mobile boarding pass downloads can offer commercial opportunities.

What is certain is that this technology will become an increasingly prominent part of the airline industry as mobile becomes ever more dominant. Statistics and surveys have indicated continually that mobile is playing a massive part in the modern travel experience, and companies would be extremely unwise not to fully embrace this. But in the coming years, mobile will become even more commercially significant, and at this time it is expected that mobile boarding passes will become not only the norm but completely dominant in the industry.

Although the advantages of mobile boarding passes are well-documented, and indeed quite obvious, it should be stated in mitigation that there are also issues related to them. One drawback of mobile boarding passes is related to mobile technology itself. When a mobile battery dies, or if there are any issues with reading a particular pass, then the lack of a backup option can be extremely problematical. There is often an internal airline procedure in place to mitigate these risks, but there will always be occasional issues with such technology. Of course, it should be stated on the flip side that paper passes are lost quite frequently, but people tend to become more aggravated about problems associated with technology.

Secondly, utilising mobile boarding passes can occasionally be challenging when multiple people are travelling via one reservation. At present, there is some inconsistency in the airline industry with regard to the ability of airlines to handle multiple mobile boarding passes for a single person. Some airlines, such as Alaska Airlines, do allow passengers to switch between multiple boarding passes within their apps, and it seems likely that all airlines will eventually get on board with this technology. Nonetheless, it can be an issue.

Incentives for Destinations and Travel Companies

Airlines, travel destinations and travel-related companies alike would do well to embrace this technology, as it offers massive commercial opportunities. Not only is there the potential to make airports considerably more convenient for passengers and customers, but there are also a raft of other incentives.

Promoting travel-related services and goods to passengers is already big business, but this will only escalate in the near future. Previous reports by the Digital Tourism Think Tank have shown decisively that the overwhelming majority of tourists now consider mobile to be central to the holiday experience. But it is predicted that before the end of the decade, over half of all e-commerce will be conducted via mobile platforms.

This means that companies and destinations which target travellers via mobile will be tapping into an increasingly fertile marketplace. It is a raft of consumers which simply cannot be ignored as the prominence of mobile becomes ever greater. easyJet is well aware of this, and this is their primary motivation for the existing mobile boarding pass campaign.

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