Now that US Airways offers paperless travel, we need to revisit my long standing advice. You need a backup plan for your electronic ticket.
When everyone first tries out the paperless ticket on their mobile device, they have a paper copy in their pocket just in case. Of course, Murphy Law doesn’t come into effect until you don’t have that backup. So do you need to print a paper copy every time? Of course not, but you should have a backup. Here are the two that matter most:
- You can just leave some extra time. If you have a problem, you can always go back to the Kiosk or ticket counter and print out a paper boarding pass. If you use this one, you probably didn’t need the paperless boarding pass anyways and are just doing it to try something new.
- The real backup plan is to access your boarding pass online, have the boarding pass on your mobile device, and take a screen shot into your photo album. You can now bring it up at anytime you need it. To do this on an iPhone, you press both the power button at the top and the home button on the front at the same time and snap you are done.
Why would you need this backup? Two examples that actually happened to me. They both are caused by how Safari works on the iPhone. Similar things may happen on other phones, but I don’t know. When you switch applications, like reading your email in the security line, it may need to free up memory and drop the saved version of the page. When you access it again — when you are about to get to the TSA agent checking IDs — Safari will reload the page and you will be all set. Except if…
…the network isn’t available right then. Would never happen on AT&T at a busy airport, right? Happened to me last week at PHL.
…you are inside the 30 minute time window for getting boarding passes. I don’t think this will happen again, but in the early days with Continental, this did happen to me. As I got out of the cab 35 minutes before my flight, I had a boarding pass on my screen. At 25 minutes before my flight the page tried to refresh and it said. It wouldn’t do it within 30 minutes. A fast sprint to the ticket counter and a sprint back got me on my flight, but it wasn’t pretty.
Oh, and remember, you need it to get on your plane also, so your plan to “have it on the screen and not check my email or anything” may get you through security, but I guarantee Murphy will have your phone ring right before they start boarding your Zone.
Remember…just snap a screen shot and you’ll have a backup. Safe Travels.