Print: A Necessary Evil or the Ticket Home

Submitted by: Mark Boyt, XE Solutions and Services Manager, Xerox Europe

There are simply times in our busy working lives where having something on paper, printed, is what we need and simply cannot do without. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to do this, especially when travelling – not being able to print can cause of all sorts of unforeseen problems.

Recently, a few customers have mentioned they no longer need to print their boarding passes because their airline has developed an app allowing them to check in with a unique barcode on their phone, which in turn means they  can simply use their smartphone like a magic wand to pass through the airport process.

So, as a somewhat of a frequent flyer and an iPhone addict, I recently had the chance to try this out myself on a flight home. Registering and checking in for the flight was straightforward and I proudly walked into the airport ready to wave my iPhone, displaying the mobile boarding pass,  at anyone that wanted to see it.

Airline boarding pass for British Airways on smartphone with QR Code
Mobile Boarding Pass for British Airways

But then I started to get nervous – what if my battery died (as I said, it is an iPhone and I had been using it all day), what would happen then – how would I board my flight? How could I prove I was entitled to travel? What was my seat number? I was already past check in, in the queue for passport control and battery low was flashing.

Thankfully, I had not wanted to take any risks, and before leaving the local office, I had printed my boarding pass via the Mobile Print Solution as a backup, just in case.

That proves the point – there are still times when there is no substitute for the printed page, wherever you are. Even though I had the ability to use my mobile device to board the plane, I still relied on the physical document as a backup.

In the SMART Centre at Xerox, we welcome customers from all over Europe. In many of our discussions we talk about the new Xerox Mobile Print Solution and consider situations like these, where important documents need to be printed wherever the user is. The airline boarding pass –a document they all need to get home – is just one great example that always gets their attention and reminds them of the printed documents they need to have on hand.

During our working day, when away from our desks, I believe we all receive documents that represent great value that cannot be realised until printed. Boarding passes, contracts that need signing, critical data for the meeting I am running to – are just some examples. Making it easy to print these wherever you are is going to make us more productive – and in some cases life less stressful, and get us home on time.

Are you using your smartphone to access more apps that replace paper-based tasks? Or do you look for a paper backup too?

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  1. Theresa Gordon September 26, 2011 - Reply

    This is an interesting article. I did use my iphone for my boarding passes recently when travelling for business. I took the chance and didn’t print anything. I charged my phone the night before so I didn’t have to worry about the battery although it is my personal phone therefore I was able to easily limit usage. It was a speedy process, sailed right through. Although I am getting ready for a vacation and have printed my documents, maybe it’s an airline limitation but I didn’t see online check in as an option. (Xerox employee).

  2. Mark Boyt September 28, 2011 - Reply

    Thanks for your comment Theresa! It’s great to hear the mobile boarding pass process was simple for you – it helps when you come prepared. The outward leg is easier to prepare for than the return though!

    And, it’s interesting that this time around you have to bring printed documents to travel. I am planning a flight shortly too and will definitely want to continue to try the electronic processes but will ensure I have my printed back up just in case.

    It seems that this is a typical limitation today as we make the digital jump. There will be some quick, easy transitions and others will take longer, leaving us to rely on our printed documents.

  3. Michael Belisle October 14, 2011 - Reply

    The title should read, “Boarding passes: A neccessary evil?” The question shouldn’t be whether or not we need to print them; it sould be whether or not we need them at all.

    Once my identity is verified, it is technically possible to ascertain why I am at the airport, where I want to go, and what I need to do to get there. The information is known to the airport system. But the information is fragmented, so that security doesn’t know anything other than whether my documents look valid, while the airline doesn’t know who I am, merely letting me on the airplane when I present a valid document.

    Both can know the complete picture. Why can’t I walk into the airport, establish my identity, and (if I don’t already know through some means) be told to please proceed to gate 37 for my flight at 13:30?

  4. Mark Boyt October 20, 2011 - Reply

    Hi Michael, thanks for your comment! That’s an interesting perspective and provides a more streamlined approach to the airline boarding process.

    I agree that the process today is fragmented and can hopefully me more integrated in the future. As a UK citizen I was delighted at least on my recent trip to the US that I no longer had to fill in the visa waiver form having completed it (ESTA) on line before travelling. At least this is simplifying part of the process. Also it is fun using the retinal process to avoid the queue at passport control.

    That said I still feel more comfortable with a bit of paper telling me where my seat is at least. Perhaps one day all of this will be joined up.

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