Mobile Check-in

Mobile check-in

When people have a mobile they tend to take it with them almost everywhere and use it for an increasing number of everyday tasks. Mobile check-in is likely to be the most popular check-in option of all.

How does Mobile Check-in work?

There are two main scenarios. Either the passenger starts the process or the airline can do it. In both cases the passenger will receive a 2D bar coded boarding pass on the mobile.

Passenger initiated mobile check-in:

In general the process has these four steps

Step 1: Go to the airline web site and access online check-in

Some airlines have a mobile version of their website as well as the full version.

Step 2: Find booking

Passengers access their booking by inputting personal details e.g. frequent traveller number, booking reference etc.

Step 3: Check-in and add personal details

They then choose an available seat from the interactive seat plan or accept the ones suggested. They can then add any missing personal details like APIS and frequent traveller numbers and then complete the check-in.

Step 4: Boarding pass

The boarding pass is available in 2 formats, paper or electronic.
Paper pass – by self print, fax, at a kiosk or a bag drop
Electronic – by email, saved to the mobile device

Airline initiated mobile check-in: (also called SMS check-in):

In general the process has these four steps:

Step 1: At the time of booking the passenger registers to receive mobile check-in notification.

Step 2: The airline sends an SMS to the registered mobile with all the check-in details (flight number, route, departure date and time, seat number etc.).

Step 3: The passenger confirms that they wish to go ahead with the check-in by replying with an SMS stating Y or YES.

Step 4: The airline sends an SMS with the check-in confirmation. If mobile BCBP is available the airline also sends a link to that BCBP. This can be in the same message as the confirmation or in a second SMS.

More about Boarding Pass


Passengers without bags can proceed straight to security if they have a boarding pass.
Passengers with baggage can have several alternatives:

  • go to a Bag Drop desk
  • go to a Common Bag Drop desk
  • self tag baggage at a kiosk and then go to a bag drop desk
  • self tag bags at a kiosk with integrated baggage drop

More about Baggage

Why use Mobile Check-in?

  • convenience as the airline can start the check-in process and the passenger doesn’t have to remember check-in opens
  • control as they can choose to accept the check-in, change seats or ignore it and check-in elsewhere
  • save time by bypassing airport queues
  • take control of a new sales channel
  • cut costs as fewer passengers use desks and these can be reduced in number
  • offer improved service by giving passengers more control
  • enhanced customer experience by having less queues
  • more revenue as passengers can have more dwell time
  • ancillary revenue opportunities by knowing where passengers are in the airport

The trouble with Mobile Check-in…

For now there will be limited functionality until mobile check-in becomes accepted and trusted like online and kiosks. There are a few possible problems but these will likely decrease in time:

  • Capability of the mobile device
  • Seat choice e.g. AF/KL currently only offer aisle or window
  • Mobiles can be lost or stolen and have dead batteries
  • Passengers will feel there is more risk on a mobile. They don’t yet trust mobile as much as desktop.
  • It is easier to use a pc with a mouse or trackpad and a bigger screen