Apple Watch and the Airport: A Perfect Match?

Today, I went on a flight for the first time since getting my Apple Watch several months earlier. I’ve used my phone as a boarding pass before, but have never used my watch for it. Because this is such a new technology, not many people or airports are equipped for the matter. As a result, I wanted to share my experience with you and how it could be improved.

First, Apple makes the process of using a boarding pass extremely easy. After you add the pass to Wallet (formerly known as Passbook), Apple uses dates and location services to display the pass on your lock screen. As for me, it was displayed within the Notification Center on the Apple Watch. Pulling up the pass on the Watch was also really easy. Just tap the pass in Notification Center, scroll down to the QR code, and then it can be scanned. The QR code will pull forward with a black background automatically, or you can tap it. And when you turn it upside down to scan, the screen also doesn’t go black. Nice touch.

This is where it gets a little complicated. It depends on where you are trying this at. For me, I used this at a fairly large and popular airport. They did not have a scanner up front for phone boarding passes. Rather, I had to use the main scanner in front of the TSA agent. It was a little awkward, at a strange angle, but after a few seconds above the scanner, it worked perfectly. When I used my iPhone, it seemed as if it scanned a little faster.

As for getting on the plane, there was a scanner located on the side of the counter. It was really easy and worked even faster than at security (likely due to the better scanner placement). Once again, there were no issues and everything worked like how it should.

Apple really does a great job with boarding passes. They give you all of the info you need, including gate numbers, even after they’re changed. You can also see other info, such as boarding time, arrival time, duration, seat number, and more. Adding it to Wallet was also super easy. When checking in for my flight online there was an option to email myself the Wallet file. All I had to do was click it and it was added.

Overall, Apple has this nailed. They really know what they’re doing and the success with boarding passes on iPhone really transferred to Apple Watch. However, the only problem with this is actually the airports, not the technology itself. Scanners need to be more up front, easier for users to access. Once we get scanners dedicated to devices only, the future of mobile boarding passes will pretty much here.

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