A deeper look at PassBook and how travelers can benefit

For a guy who doesn’t use an iPhone I’ve been rather irrationally excited about the PassBook application and the implications it has for travelers. Most of my analysis to date has been a bit superficial which might be part of why I’m so excited. As part of research for a story on PassBook & airline travel I wrote for the Apex Association Blog this week I did a bit more research. And, believe it or not, I’m actually more impressed with the platform and what it might mean to passengers.

PassBook is not revolutionary. Location-based alerts are available to any developer willing to write the code into their app. Ditto for updates (i.e. gate change notification) via the Apple Push Notification (APN) services. These are the features which make PassBook so awesome and yet they’ve been available to everyone for a while now. So what actually makes PassBook so special? Basically it is just too easy to use as a developer.

Rather than investing in development of a full iOS application airlines can quickly deploy PassBook integration. The financial and time investments to get into the mobile travel space have been cut dramatically. This development should allow more airlines to offer mobile boarding passes more quickly. It should allow more passengers to pass through airports more quickly. And it should mean fewer confused passengers along the way.

It also means potential for better alerts and notifications of customers for travel-related activity other than just boarding passes. There are some airlines who don’t want to allow customers to track their award balances through a 3rd party application; Delta was the most recent to shut down such access. Creating a PassBook membership card would allow the airlines to still control the interaction while also allowing for timely and useful updates to their members. Seems like a win for everyone involved. Of course, the airlines actually have to get on board. But this is a great opportunity to do so in a way that is actually customer-friendly.

The PassBook developments aren’t enough to get me on board with the iPhone bandwagon. But they certainly have me looking a the developer side of things a lot more closely. What about a PassBook listing of award search alerts from Wandering Aramean Travel Tools? Instant push alerts and quick review of pending queries can’t be all bad, right??

Related Posts:

Never miss another post: Sign up for email alerts and get only the content you want direct to your inbox.

Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I think the day that they can push flight delay info to your Passbook boarding pass will make it really indispensable. Right now it is very cool. With real-time delay info – it will rock.

  2. Airlines can change basically any field in the pass extremely easily, it’s just a matter of airlines not doing it. I don’t think that United pushes updates on seat, but they do it for gate number, and that is probably the most important.

  3. Last week a guy TUL-DFW on AA held up F boarding because he didn’t realize his iPhone had gone dark and kept sticking up to the scanner. The other iPhone users breezed through. I have Passbook and like it though I would have used the AA app if it didn’t exist. Still, like you say, it should help to get other airlines to use it.

  4. I tried to use the passbook feature on a delta flight out of ATL 2 days after i got the iPhone 5 but it did not work. I hope delta gets it together next time I fly with them…

Comments are closed.