TSA tests electronic boarding passes

The Transportation Security Administration is testing electronic boarding passes readable from cell phones and handheld personal digital assistant devices at several U.S. airports, the agency announced.

The paperless boarding pass is displayed on a cell phone or PDA as an encrypted two-dimensional bar code, along with passenger and flight information.

TSA security officers use handheld scanners to validate the passes at the checkpoints. Passengers also must show photo identification to verify that the name matches the one on the boarding pass.

TSA began rolling out the program last year with Continental Airlines at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. It now operates with Continental at several airports.

TSA anticipates expanding the technology to all U.S. airports in a year. The agency will use the scanners to track wait times using standardized automated data collected at checkpoints, the agency said in a news release Oct. 15.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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