For a few years now airline passengers in Europe have been able to perform almost their entire travel experience, from ticket purchase to boarding, without the need to interact with airline employees. Online purchase and check-in are not particularly special but a number of airlines and airports in Europe have also had the ability to actually present a boarding pass to an automated system at the gate rather than to an agent. That functionality is now going to make the leap across the Atlantic and will be active in Houston starting next week.
The hardware was installed by Continental Airlines at one gate in the Houston hub recently and is expected to go into production use next week. Passengers will be able to present their boarding card or mobile device with the 2-D barcode on it and scan it themselves to gain entry to the jetway. In the current configuration there will be two turnstiles in addition to the regular boarding lane that will be operated by an agent. In addition to the gates there are digital screens being installed overhead to assist the passengers with the process.
No word yet on whether the gates will honor the EliteAccess or other boarding priority schemes.
A special thanks to the guy who knows who he is for providing the photos.
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