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JetStar launches ‘text’ boarding

August 5, 2009
Sample text message from JetStar (image source: The Age, Australia)

Sample text message from JetStar (image source: The Age, Australia)

Boarding a plane will be as simple as receiving a text message from later this year as Jetstar rolls out the mobile phone scanner from a company based in Melbourne. The machine is aimed to reduce waiting times for airline passengers by allowing them to head straight through departure gates with the simple swipe of a phone handset.

Jetstar sends a message to your phone with a special code in it – just a standard SMS message – and as you go up to the boarding gate, you scan your phone and it prints out your boarding pass. The text message just looks like random numbers and letters to a normal person but the computer analyses (the sequence) and prints out the ticket. You can go straight to the boarding gate and go to the plane if you don’t have any baggage. Right now you have to be there half and hour beforehand and you’ve got to wait around.

Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan said the technology was a first for the industry and would reduce waiting times, making flying easier. These new world first technologies will make the Jetstar airport experience more convenient, hassle free and simpler. Importantly, it will also improve service levels from Jetstar Airport Customer Service personnel by freeing them to get on with the job of processing checked-in baggage.

While some US airlines already allow passengers to check in with internet-enabled wireless devices, including phones, Jetstar says the new technology is a world first in allowing the service to work on all mobile phones. Despite concerns over the security of mobile phones – a security conference recently revealed Apple’s highly popular iPhone was vulnerable to cyber attacks via SMS – Mr Hornlimann insists the text ticket is safe.

“It’s as secure as any current message. (At the moment) you can print out your web check-in in PDF and if someone else gets their hands on it and, unless the airline asks for identification at check in, they could board the aircraft. There are validation processes. If you come up and someone else has already boarded with that ticket, a customer service person from Jetstar would ask for identification.”

Earlier this month Jetstar began SMS ticketing, allowing customers to book flights via a text message from their mobile phone. Customers must first register on the Jetstar website. The mobile phone scanner will be live tested at Melbourne’s Avalon Airport in a month’s time and is expected to be rolled out across Australia in November.

Currently there are no plans to extend the scanners into New Zealand or other locations Jetstar services across Asia.

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