The travel business is rapidly undergoing a Paperless Transformation. After Railways, the airlines too, could soon start accepting virtual boarding passes received on the smartphones of travelers.
The Aviation Ministry has asked the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) to formulate an automated system that will allow flyers to receive & subsequently flash a bar-coded message that will serve as a boarding-pass. These virtual boarding passes will be accepted at each & every stage, the physical passes are mandated to be produced for scrutiny.
The process has already begun as passengers are presently allowed to enter the airport premises by producing electronic copies of their tickets. But boarding passes are an additional requirement which is essentially a confirmation that the passenger is actually ready to fly & has reserved a seat.
How will the virtual boarding passes work?
At present, apart from physical printed copies of tickets, passengers are allowed soft copies of the same to be displayed at the main gates of the airports to be allowed entry. But, the boarding pass was still mandated to be presented in hard-copy. Ironically, both, the ticket as well as boarding pass have a Bar-Code to ensure genuineness & authenticity. Hence, the same can be considered as an extension of the previous feature.
Unfortunately, only smartphones can be used to flash these virtual boarding passes as feature/basic phones do not possess the capability of displaying bar-codes. Additionally, at present, there are few policy-based hurdles that need to be ironed out if the Airports wish to implement this new process smoothly. “During security check, passengers’ mobile phones pass through X-ray machines and they get them back after they are cleared. At present, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) stamp boarding passes after frisking passengers and this stamp is seen before a flyer is allowed to get on a plane. So we have to work on the issue of allowing mobile phones with passengers during security check so that CISF personnel can see the card, doing away with the practice of stamping cards” said an official.
Railways fortunately do not require such an additional step of procuring a boarding pass & hence it could very easily deploy the paperless solution that not only saved time, but enabled customers to book tickets even on the go. Hope the airport authorities are able to sort out the hurdles & implement this feature soon.
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