I spent last weekend in Mallorca, visiting the in-laws and generally enjoying a last gasp of summer. This probably doesn’t interest you one bit. However, this next bit might. I checked in for my BA flights online and using the new British Airways app for iPhone, generated my boarding pass on my phone and used it to drop off my luggage and get through security. No paper boarding pass required.
Honestly, it was like I was visiting the future: an iPad in my bag and a boarding pass on my phone. (Don’t worry, the queue for car hire in Palma Airport brought me back to reality with a bump). So, how did it go?
Well, as my other half and I brandished our iPhones at the baggage drop-off point at London City Airport, we were met with bemused smiles. “Here we go,” I thought, “they won’t accept these and we’ll be made to look like total plonkers”. I was pleasantly surprised however, when we were invited to scan our phones under the… umm scanner… and place our bags on the conveyor belt. All done in under a minute. Security was similarly efficient – another self-scan and we were through to the hand-luggage x-ray machine. Not a paper boarding card in sight.
The return journey, from Palma to London City, wasn’t as smooth – but to be honest, I wasn’t expecting it to be. I’ve been to Mallorca over twenty-five times in the last decade and every check-in experience at Palma has been an utter nightmare. Iberia handle check-in for BA at Palma and our attempts to wave our iPhone about like an away team from the USS Enterprise were met with thinly-veiled contempt from the Iberia ladies. An endless series of clicks and clacks on the computer ensued and we waited nearly 15 minutes – during which time the Iberia employee said not one word to us – only to be given paper boarding cards at the end of it.
But it gave me a glimpse of what can be achieved when companies put smart systems in place. Smart systems are not something I associate with the airlines of this world, but this time BA has done good. They just need to ensure that their staff all know that the iPhone app can be accepted. It’s a time-saver for the passenger and surely saves some trees being cut down to make boarding cards?
Finally, a big thank-you to Angela from BA at Palma Airport who eventually sorted out the Iberia staff and got us an upgrade to Business for our troubles.