Self-service flying

Airlines continue to push Internet check-in and smartphone boarding passes


Air travel at any major airport involves running a gauntlet of security checks and lineups—none more frustrating than the final chaotic scramble at the gate when an attendant announces general boarding. To help ease the bottleneck, Continental Airlines is experimenting with turnstiles at one of its gates at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport where passengers can scan their tickets on their own as they pass through subway-style turnstiles. The big advantage of the system, says the airline, is that it frees attendants to help passengers who need assistance with things like ticket changes or seat upgrades.

Transportation officials say the system isn’t a security concern, since passengers are already screened at checkpoints before they reach the gate. (Similar systems are already used in Europe.) As airlines continue to push Internet check-in and smartphone boarding passes, so-called self-boarding may just be the next inevitable step in the electronic age of flying.

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