Lamenting the loss of the paper boarding pass

Being a tech geek, I suppose I should wildly cheer the completely unsurprising news that paper boarding passes at airports will soon be a thing of the past, and everyone will be ushered into the glorious new era of all-electronic boarding passes on our phones, in our electronic wallets and in our airline apps.

But there's a part of me that isn't cheering this news at all. I actually like paper boarding passes.

For starters, paper boarding passes almost always scan the first time at security and at the boarding gate. I can't tell you the number of times I've been in an airport security line and someone spends 30 seconds fiddling with the brightness screen on their smart phone so that their electronic boarding pass will scan.

Or that one time I saw a person try to repeatedly scan their boarding pass at security on their Apple Watch for what seemed like five hours (I'm sure it was 20 seconds, but it was 20 excruciating seconds) before the individual actually took off the watch to re-position it for the scanner and trying again. They succeeded. Finally. I vividly remember promising myself, "I will never be that person."

I've also encountered issues before trying to check in online in the US or overseas, necessitating me having to go to a check-in counter at an airport, where they dutifully print me a paper boarding pass anyway.

Not to mention that I have never been comfortable having security scan my iPhone for the boarding pass and then dropping my iPhone loose in the security bin to go through the X-ray gizmo. When I go through security, my iPhone is always securely tucked away in a deep zippered pocket of my carry-on or backpack.

Now maybe if electronic boarding passes evolved to being more like Apple Pay and I don't need to "scan" so much as just "put my phone near the security reader" and have my boarding pass authorized... that would be an improvement. But as of right now? I'll print out a boarding pass every day of the week, and then load the e-version on my iPhone purely as a backup.

There's another advantage to a paper boarding pass - they make great bookmarks for paperback books, while reading on the plane or at the pool.

Oh, yes, I still read paperbacks on vacation.


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