On a recent business trip to Philadelphia, I found myself in jeopardy of missing my flight back home. I didn’t have access to a printer that day, so I planned to check in and obtain my boarding pass at the airline ticket counter or self-service kiosk. Unfortunately, my business meeting went significantly longer than anticipated, and I didn’t think I would be able to make it to my gate prior to the scheduled departure time. As I sat on the SEPTA train on my way to the airport, I contemplated how I could possibly obtain my boarding pass and make it through airport security in time to board my flight. My flight was one of the last scheduled direct flights from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh that evening, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend another night in a hotel. In a stressful time like this, there was only one source to turn to - Google!
I typed in “boarding pass US Airways” in the Google search engine, and one of the results read “It’s a boarding pass…on your phone!” I followed the link and was directed to a web page that provided me with instructions on emailing my boarding pass to my smartphone. After following the instructions, I was able to use my smartphone to pull up an email that included my boarding pass information in the form of a Quick Response (QR) code. Quite simply, a QR code is a two-dimensional barcode image. Airport security was able to use a barcode scanner to read the QR image on my phone and validate the information against the information on my driver’s license. I reached my gate five minutes prior to my scheduled departure time, only to find out that the flight was delayed for approximately 30 minutes.
Through this experience, I realized the true value of my smartphone. In a time of need, I was able to use my smartphone to conduct research over the Internet, download a barcoding application, remotely access my email and display the QR code image that enabled me to get through airport security.
As I waited for my flight to board, my wife called me to check when she could expect me to arrive home. I proudly relayed the story of how I was able to use my smartphone to overcome the challenges presented to me on this trip. As a frequent business traveler, she responded by saying, “You should have called me; I would have told you that flights out of Philadelphia are always delayed.” Next time I might give that a try.
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