Bar-coded boarding pass
BCBP (bar-coded boarding pass) is the name of the standard used by more than 200 airlines. BCBP defines the 2-Dimensional (2D) bar code printed on a boarding pass or sent to a mobile phone for electronic boarding passes.
BCBP was part of the IATA Simplifying the Business program, which issued an industry mandate for all boarding passes to be bar coded. This was achieved in 2010.
Airlines and third parties use a barcode reader to read the bar codes and capture the data. Reading the bar code usually takes place in the boarding process, but can also happen when entering the airport security checkpoints.
The standard was originally published in 2005 by IATA and updated in 2008 to include symbologies for mobile phones and in 2009 to include a field for a digital signature in the mobile bar codes. Future developments of the standard will include a near field communication format.
Paper boarding passes
Paper boarding passes are issued either by agents at a check-in counter, self-service kiosks, or by airline web check-in site. BCBP can be printed at the airport by an ATB (Automated Ticket & Boarding Pass) printer or a direct thermal printer, or by a personal laser printer. The symbology for paper boarding passes is PDF417. IATA's Board of Governors' mandate stated that all the IATA member airlines would be capable of issuing BCBP by the of end 2008, and all boarding passes would contain the 2D bar code by the end of 2010. The BCBP standard were published in 2005. It has been progressively adopted by airlines: End 2005, 9 airlines were BCBP capable; 32 by end 2006; 101 by end 2007; and 200 by end 2008 (source: IATA).
Mobile boarding passes
'Paper is out, Cellphones are in'  read the NY Times on March 18, 2008. BCBP can also be sent to mobile phones, via MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), email, WAP Push or via an app. IATA's BCBP standard  defines the three symbologies accepted for mobile phones: Aztec code, Datamatrix and QR code. The United Nations International Telecommunications Union expected mobile phone subscribers to hit the 4 billion mark by the end of 2008.
According to SITA's Airline IT Trend Survey 2009, mobile BCBP accounts for 2.1% of use (vs. paper boarding passes) and forecast rising to 11.6% in 2012.
At least 36 airlines use mobile BCBP:
- Aegean Airlines
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Austrian Airlines
- Azul Brazilian Airlines
- British Airways
- Brussels Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- China Southern Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Emirates (except US flights)
- Hainan Airlines
- Jet Airways (JetPrivilege members only)
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Olympic Air
- Qantas (domestic)
- Qatar Airways
- Scandinavian Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Swiss International Air Lines
- United Airlines
- US Airways
In Europe, Lufthansa was one of the first airlines to launch Mobile BCBP in April 2008. In the US, the Transportation Security Administration runs a pilot program of a Boarding Pass Scanning System, using the IATA BCBP standard.
- On October 15, 2008, the TSA announced that scanners would be deployed within a year and scanning mobile BCBP would enable to better track wait times. The TSA keeps adding new pilot airports: Cleveland on October 23, 2008.
- On October 14, 2008, Alaska Airlines started piloting mobile boarding passes at Seattle Seatac Airport.
- On November 3, 2008, Air New Zealand launched the mpass, a boarding pass received on the mobile phone.
- On November 10, 2008, Qatar Airways launched their online check-in: passengers can have their boarding passes sent directly to their mobile phones.
- On November 13, 2008, American Airlines started offering mobile boarding passes in Chicago O'Hare airport.
- On December 18, 2008, Cathay Pacific launched its mobile Check-in service, including the delivery of the barcode to the mobile phone.
- On February 24, 2009, Austrian Airlines begun offering paperless boarding passes to customers on selected routes.
- On April 16, 2009, SAS joined the mobile boarding pass bandwagon.
- On May 26, 2009, Air China offered its customers to receive a two-dimensional bar-code e-boarding pass on their mobile phone, with which they can go through security procedures at any channel in Beijing Airport Terminal 3, enabling a completely paperless check-in service.
- On October 1, 2009, Swiss introduced mobile boarding pass to its customers.
- On November 12, 2009, Finnair explained that "The mobile boarding pass system cuts passengers’ carbon footprint by removing the need for passengers to print out and keep track of a paper boarding pass".
- On 15 March 2010, United began to offer mobile boarding passes to customers equipped with smartphones.
- In July/August 2014, Ryanair became the latest airline to offer mobile boarding passes to customers equipped with smartphones.
- IATA BCBP Reference Materials[dead link]
- Paper Is Out, Cellphones Are In
- IATA BCBP standard
- Number of cell phone subscribers to hit 4 billion this year, UN says
- the industry's next major technological innovation after e-ticketing'
- Lufthansa launches mobile boarding pass[dead link]
- TSA and Continental Airlines Expand Paperless Boarding Pass Program
- Paperless Boarding Pass Pilot[dead link]
- TSA to expand paperless boarding pass program
- TSA and Continental Airlines Expand Paperless Boarding Pass Program to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
- Alaska Airlines testing electronic boarding passes[dead link]
- All your flight information in your pocket![dead link]
- have a bar-coded boarding pass sent to a mobile phone
- American brings mobile boarding passes to O'Hare[dead link]
- Check-In While On the Move at m.cathaypacific.com
- Austrian Airlines adopts paperless boarding passes[dead link]
- SAS Joins European Airline Mobile Boarding Pass Bandwagon[dead link]
- Air China launches SMS check-in
- Mobile boarding pass with SWISS[dead link]
- Finnair launches mobile boarding passes in Manchester[dead link]
- Paperless boarding takes off at United[dead link]
- Qantas boosts mobile device check-in options
- Northwest Airlines offer E-Boarding Pass functionality for their passengers
- Vueling: Now You Can Use Your Mobile as a Boarding Pass!
- Lufthansa offers mobile boarding pass worldwide
- Bar Coded Boarding Passes – Secure, Mobile and On the way
- Qatar launch mobile boarding pass service
- Mobile Boarding Pass Innovation Takes off with Qatar
- TSA Expands Paperless Boarding Pass Pilot Program to Additional Airports and Airlines
- Mobile boarding passes come to Barcelona Airport
- Spanair extend their mobile boarding pass service