Google Now boarding passes live for select airlines


With the most recent update to Google Now, Google announced features that frequent flyers found quite useful. For starters, Google Now would pull information from any itineraries emailed to you by an airline to display you information like flight number, gate number, seat number departure times, weather in your city of arrival and more without you having to tell it to.

Google also promised boarding passes could be served up for select airlines, but the feature wasn’t yet live. Welp, the first crop of airlines have launched the feature with Google and should you have some travel plans soon your boarding pass should be included with the aforementioned wealth of information.

Word of advice, though: you shouldn’t completely bypass paper boarding passes if you happen to be able to use this feature. Despite accepting electronic boarding passes some airlines have difficulty getting you through the gate if you use your phone or tablet. Either they have problems scanning the pass (the hardware/software may differ from gate to gate and airport to airport) or they may require more time to validate the boarding pass.

Use it when you can, but it won’t hurt to have a paper-based backup sitting in your pocket in case things don’t go right. Having said all that, be sure to give it a try during your next trip if your airline of choice happens to be supported (Google’s not telling us which are and aren’t, so it’s a crap shoot until folks start leaving their impessions).

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I’ve never had a problem using the mobile passes provided the airport has the equipment. I’m frequently traveling out in the middle of nowhere and going out of my way to get to a printer just isn’t very convenient. I definitely welcome this feature, I hadn’t realized it wasn’t live yet when I tried it last month on a United flight and was a bit disappointed.

    Does it say somewhere which airlines are available? I’m pretty sure I’d heard United a couple months ago but haven’t heard since.

    1. I got live passes on United this past Friday.

    2. I’ve never had a problem either. No problems with security or at the gate at all. It’s been close to a year since I’ve ever held a paper pass.

    3. I travel a few times/year and never had a problem with my eBoarding passes in any of the northern ca airports or JFK. I notice at JFK at areas around the gates (for delta), there are self serve machines to print boarding passes, just in case I guess. Some airports I can see being a problem because I have been to some where I get no signal. And if the app/email has to reconnect to get the pass then you’re jacked if you don’t have the page saved locally.

  2. How does this work with the part of getting through security when you have to show your ID and boarding pass – then the TSA scribbles their initials on the paper boarding pass? I have a hard time seeing some of those TSA staffers dealing with a digital boarding pass.

    1. TSA deals with it fine in all cases. When I first started using e-passes, my local (medium-sized) airport’s TSA would give me an orange card after they validated the e-pass at the first TSA stand. The orange card basically said, “I have a valid pass, but it’s going through the X-ray machine.” You gave it back after they wand/ogle you.

      Most recently, the orange card hasn’t happened to me in a long time. They validate the e-pass once and then never ask for boarding credentials again. I think TSA frequently changes their procedures, so this is probably just marking an evolution of how they do all checkpoint hand-offs rather than a response to e-passes specifically.

    2. It’s just like any mobile boarding pass you would get from an airline’s official app. I’ve used electronic boarding passes plenty of times at the TSA gate. It’s always good to have that paper backup, but there have been a couple of times where i just didn’t have the time to print it. Google Now shouldn’t be any different.

      1. The thing that annoys me about having a paper backup is that..well if you already have the paper why even bother getting the ePass as well. I hate redundancy backup plans for technology. It means something is not deployed right.

    3. Thanks Graham and esjay.

      Makes sense!

    4. In Las Vegas this last Friday, I saw TSA turn back a guy with an iPhone, telling him he needed a paper pass. Only time I’ve ever seen it, but apparently, it CAN happen. I don’t know any other information about the guy, flight he was on, etc that might explain it.

  3. I just flew on Southwest Airlines and Google now had my flight info ready for me as of January 6th. Handy feature.

  4. I got live passes on United this past Friday.

  5. This is cool, too bad I have ICS, barely over 1 year old OS, and therefore cannot have it.

    1. Buy a newer and better phone and you won’t have that problem. Or, you know, just root and install a custom ROM that has Google Now.

  6. Two questions, and a bit of related commentary:

    1. Is there any way to find out which airlines specifically are supported?
    2. If the card doesn’t show up at the right time, or you accidentally dismiss it when it does, is there a way to force it to show?

    It’s cool when Google Now surprises me with a nearby place that I might find interesting. It’s cool when it thinks I may want to see a movie and surprises me with a suggestion. It’s super cool when I haven’t bothered to check the traffic and it prompts me that I’d better leave early for an appointment.

    A boarding pass is a bit of a different beast. I need to be darned sure before I head out to the airport that I have my boarding pass (or that I’ve allowed enough time to stand in the slow line if I don’t). I don’t want to be surprised and delighted with the boarding pass, I want to be able to rely on it being there. This seems to be a bit of a stretch for Google Now (as I currently understand the service, anyway).

  7. Would also not be fun if your battery dies before checkin if you don’t have a paper backup

    1. 1) Never pass up a chance to charge.
      2) If you realize it will be important for your phone to keep as much charge as possible, turn off anything and everything that wastes a charge.
      3) If you’re about to “but….” the first two points, then maybe you shouldn’t be using paperless boarding documents and just print them.

  8. You get to your destination and then get hammered by international roaming costs. Telco companies suck.

    1. Simple. When they close the door of the aircraft and tell you to turn your electronics off, do so. At that point, remove your SIM card and put in an old “dead” card. Once you get to your location, buy a local SIM. Never had an issue and service on the local SIM in country has always been cheaper than using my US SIM in the US anyway.

      1. So I have to mess about for an hour buying a SIM card too.. And if they don’t sell them in the airport? Well then I have to guess where which seems nothing like the smooth experience in the Google ad does it? Perhaps it’s only about US -> US travel?

  9. I have to say when I flew last summer I saw people with their iPhones scanning their boarding passes and I was a little jelly. Glad to see this feature make it to the Android Army.

  10. Unfortunately, since I usually travel with my wife and kids, it makes no sense to use this. The airlines I’ve used are pretty much one per phone for the electronic passes and my kids are too young to have phones.

  11. Too bad my airport is in the stoneages in regards to the paperless boarding passes. Got to do it once out of Philly though with the Delta app and it was pretty nice. No hassles at all.

  12. I’m flying from BWI down to Orlando in December so I should hope by then they have it all together, if they don’t already. I’m looking forward to giving it a try. I’ll have my paper backup though just in case.

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