Columbia airport plans to install mobile boarding pass scanner

Thursday, October 10, 2013 | 12:56 p.m. CDT; updated 4:37 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 10, 2013

COLUMBIA — When leaving for an airport, passengers usually check their person for the key things they will need once they arrive: luggage, cellphone, ID card. With recent developments in technology, one of those things is becoming obsolete: the paper boarding pass.

This advancement saves paper and time, but it isn't saving anyone anything if they are flying through Columbia Regional Airport. The airport's carrier, American Airlines, has adopted the technology but it is only available at some of the airports American flies through.

Though Columbia Regional Airport does not have equipment to scan mobile boarding passes, the Airport Advisory Board has been working on a solution since the beginning of this year, American Airlines official John Frye said.

"It's unclear whose responsibility it is to provide the equipment," Airport Advisory Board member Steven Faber said.

The board has been trying to figure out if the financial and physical responsibility of obtaining the equipment rests with American Airlines, the Transportation Security Administration or the city-owned airport.

The equipment needed is a small kiosk scanner that you stick your phone under, similar to a price check kiosk at a department store. Frye said the equipment is expensive but cost is not a concern.

"If we have to pay for it, we will," Frye said. "Most airports have them."

Frye estimates 20 percent of people who come into the airport have the unexpected inconvenience of printing out a paper boarding pass instead of being able to use their mobile pass.

"I was told about one person a month misses their flight because we don't have the technology, but that's one person too many," Faber said. "(The cost) would be absolutely worth it. It's becoming a standard, and to not have it is embarrassing."

"On the website, it says we don't accept (mobile boarding passes) but once we do accept them, I think more people would use them," Frye said. "I think more people will come in with the mobile boarding passes once we advertise that we offer that service."

At the Oct. 2 Airport Advisory Board meeting, Faber said his research found that the equipment needed to be obtained through American Airlines, though he's still not sure who is financially responsible. Frye estimates that the cost would be paid by a combination of the airline and the airport.

"It won't be a long process to get the equipment approved, we just have to get it to ship, test the equipment and train the staff on it," Frye said.

Frye said he expects a scanner to be up and running by Christmas.

Columbia Regional Airport offers flights through American Airlines three times each day: two flights arriving and departing from Dallas/Fort-Worth Airport and one flight arriving and departing from Chicago O'Hare Airport.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Richard Saunders October 10, 2013 | 2:10 p.m.

Gee, I would think that the equipment required to scan American Airline's boarding passes should be purchased by American, if that's what they want to use.

Sadly though, basic logic such as this has no place in a political environment where the only question that ever comes up is, "Who can I get to pay for my expenses?"

Also, I would assume that the NSA would love to own these machines, so hey, maybe they'll buy them?

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