Mobile ticketing is here. Travelers can opt to receive a special bar code on their cellphones that acts as a boarding pass. Continental, Delta and American have had this program in effect for some time. It is growing in popularity with more carriers in the United States and Europe. In the U.S., the main pioneer behind the program has been Continental Airlines. The airline has been enabling phone check-in at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, San Antonio International Airport, IAH and Ronald Reagan Washington National since 2007. Each paperless boarding pass displays an encrypted two-dimensional bar code along with passenger and flight information that will identify the traveler. The phones are scanned by TSA workers at security. American Airlines introduced mobile boarding passes in November for domestic passengers departing Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. The use of cell phones to check in gained popularity when the International Air Transport Association introduced a global standard for boarding pass bar codes. Mobile ticketing is expected to grow from 37.4 million transactions in 2007 to more than 1.8 billion by 2011 for both air and rail travel. It is also expected that the airlines will save an estimated $500 million a year on paper and ink and the costs of the magnetic strip encoding equipment required to print tickets on paper. Mobile boarding passes require an active e-mail account and an Internet-enabled phone. Often when passengers are headed out of town they have time to print out a boarding pass, but when they return or move on to another city they are often in hurry. Having the ability to check in from a cab or train on the way to the airport is a win-win situation for passengers and the airlines.

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