Southwest Airlines is starting to roll out mobile boarding passes, and for anyone who flies as much as I have over the last few years, this is very welcome news.
I've been here at South by Southwest for the past week, and this afternoon, checking in for my flight home on Tuesday, I was surprised -- and very, very delighted -- to be offered a mobile boarding pass.
I'd not heard of this before, so I did a quick Google check and it turns out that (at least some) passengers in Dallas have had this option for about two weeks. But without a critical mass of tech reporters there, the news didn't make it very far. I'm sure Southwest is now banking on the idea that giving the SXSW community access to this wonderful tool is a good way to spread the word.
Or, perhaps that's a totally technology-centric view of things. A co-worker told me that a Southwest gate agent mentioned the new system recently and said the airline would be rolling it out in geographic waves from its home base in Dallas. Austin being close by, well, it kind of makes sense. Maybe the SXSW timing is just a coincidence.
Indeed, on its Web site, Southwest specifically says that, "At this time, mobile boarding passes are only available to passengers traveling on Southwest Airlines-operated flights originating out of Austin, TX (AUS), Dallas Love Field (DAL), and Houston Hobby (HOU) as part of a pilot program."
Still, this is great news, and I'm sure the pilot program will be very popular with Southwest passengers. And hopefully that means that, soon, a lot of people who fly the airline are going to be very happy to be able to have their iPhones and Android devices scanned by TSA rather than have to worry about printing out a paper boarding pass.