Flying with Passbook and the AA iOS App

Today I had my first chance to really take advantage of one of the most promoted features of Passbook in iOS. Last time I flew was just a week before iOS 6 was released, so I missed the opportunity to try it out.

American Airlines’ iOS App

And because of the awesome timing of my flight, I also got a chance to check out American Airlines’ totally revamped iOS app before I left. The previous version was in a sad state, not only did it look terrible, but the navigation was completely non-standard and difficult to use. But now it is a very streamlined application with simple and logical flows and navigation.

But where it really shines is on the iPad. American really went all out on some very useful features, and it was more than worth it. If you have an AAdvantage account, you can view all your miles on a very simple and easy to understand screen with graphs showing how far you are to getting Elite upgrades.

And for booking flights, there is a spinning globe with all of American’s airports pinned. To look up flights, just tap an airport, set it as the departure, tap another airport and set it as arrival, give it a date, and you’ve got a list of available flights.

Passbook Tickets

One of the things I am most excited about in Passbook is the ability to store travel tickets for easy access. I’ve flown on both United and American in the past year and I’ve used their in-app digital/mobile boarding pass systems and I hated it. First, getting access to the boarding pass was a hunt, going to the “My Flights” screen, selecting my flight, and then opening the boarding pass. I always had to keep the app open so that I could quickly access it when necessary, and if I switched away from it I would have to start the process of finding my boarding pass all over again.

But with Passbook, it’s as simple as pulling out my phone, swiping the “sticky” notification and setting my phone on the scanner. About 12 hours before my flight, Passbook inserted a “sticky” notification on my home screen, it stayed there no matter how many times I unlocked my phone, just waiting to be used. While it was a little annoying this morning, always having this ‘notification’ on my screen, it wasn’t hard to ignore, and it was incredibly useful when I actually got to the airport.

Both going through security and boarding the plane were much, much simpler processes than before and just about as painless as using a paper boarding pass.

One of the other useful things about AA’s boarding passes (I haven’t used the feature for other airlines, so I can’t attest to what they look like and how they work) is that it has all the crucial information right up front; your flight number, seat, gate, and departure time. On the reverse side it has some less crucial information about the fight and your ticket such as record locator number, flight length, boarding time, and if WiFi is available on the flight (sadly mine did not).

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