London, May 23 : British Midland Airways (BMI) has launched a new facility which allows passengers to get through security and on to their plane just by showing them a barcode sent by the airline to their mobile phone or handheld PDA.
With the new facility coming into being, the airline's passengers do not have to print out the traditional slips anymore.
BMI, the first airline in Britain to launch such a scheme, has revealed that dozens of its passengers have already used their cell phones to board flights at Edinburgh Airport, since the facility was launched last week.
The airline says that the service will soon be available at other airports also, including Glasgow and Aberdeen.
A news report on this advancement reckons BMI's new scheme as an indication that the long-awaited industry dream of paperless travel, all the way from booking a flight to boarding the aircraft, will soon be a reality.
"It is a great move. I have used it already when flying out of Manchester and it worked at the gate. Those of us who travel on business will find it especially handy but I think it will catch on everywhere eventually," the Scotsman quoted Oliver Tait, an IT director from Manchester and a frequent traveller with BMI, as saying.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which recently announced that old-fashioned paper tickets would finally be eliminated by the end of this month, has also appreciated BMI's move.
"It is a smart move and we applaud the initiative. BMI joins a small but fast- growing number of airlines taking advantage of mobile technology and IATA's standard for mobile bar-coded boarding passes. It will deliver their customers another convenient check-in option while improving efficiency. And that's what simplifying the business is all about," a spokesman for IATA said.
The two-dimensional barcode can be sent only to mobile phones with picture messaging (MMS) capabilities. It is scanned twice, once at the security checkpoint and then at the boarding gate.
The barcode works only once in order to prevent passengers getting access to the secure "airside" departures zone at any other time.
This technology means that passengers can spend less time at the airport, and no longer need to have a printer handy when checking-in online.
"This will revolutionise the process at the airport. Passengers will take to this in the same way that checking-in online, at home or in the office has become very common. There is still the option to print a boarding pass yourself if your prefer, or staff at the airport can do this if you present your ID," said Alaistair Deacon, the technical director of Glasgow-based Real Time, which has developed the system for BMI.
"The same technology has a number of uses. Train companies have already introduced it, but this is the first time it has been used in a secure environment such as an airport. "It is only available on a handful of routes, including Edinburgh to Heathrow, but this will change when the scanners are installed at more airports," Deacon added.
In a statement, British Airways said that it had plans to launch paperless boarding passes, but before that formal trials would be conducted.