How to Use a Mobile Boarding Pass

Use an E-Ticket to get on your flight

A mobile boarding pass is, as the phrase suggests, a version of the traditional boarding pass designed for use on a smartphone, tablet, or other smart device such as an Apple Watch. This digital boarding pass, sometimes referred to as an e-ticket, is represented by a barcode that can be viewed from within an app.

The barcode used on a mobile boarding pass is identical to the one on a paper boarding pass and can usually be used everywhere the paper version is accepted. Most commercial airlines such as United Airlines, Air Canada, American Airlines, and Qantas all support mobile boarding passes. Even Disney uses this technology to create mobile boarding passes for Rise of the Resistance and other popular rides at its Disneyland and Disney World theme parks.

How to Get a Boarding Pass on Phones and Tablets

Airlines and other companies that support e-tickets and digital boarding passes often send the relevant barcode to you in an email. In this case, the barcode image usually displays in the body of the email itself or in an attachment such as a PDF file.

Some barcodes included in airline emails may actually be for a receipt or proof of purchase. These cannot be used as a boarding pass.

Some airlines use a mobile boarding pass that looks identical to the paper version while others may just use a lone barcode.

Mobile boarding pass in an email.

The barcode can be a common rectangular one or a square QR code. Many companies direct you to click on a link in the order confirmation email to view your boarding pass on the airline's website or in its app.

Screenshots of an airline email and a mobile boarding pass in the Qantas iPhone app.

Is There a Boarding Pass App?

There’s no official smartphone app dedicated solely to boarding passes, However, most airline apps have apps that allow you to access and view your boarding pass along with any other important information relating to your trip.

If you’ve received your boarding pass or e-ticket barcode in an email, you can simply use this at the airport. No additional apps needed.

Apple and Google both offer their own respective apps that collect e-tickets and boarding passes from a variety of companies all in one place. Apple’s iPhone has the Wallet app and Android smartphones use the Google Pay app.

How to Add an Electronic Boarding Pass to Google Pay

Google Pay is an app that comes installed on most new Android smartphones. It can be used to make phone payments and store membership cards, e-tickets, and airline boarding passes. If your boarding pass has been sent to you at a Gmail email address, your boarding pass will likely have already been added to the Google Pay app automatically.

If not, you can add your boarding pass to Google Pay by doing one of the following:

  • Tap the Add to Google Pay icon within the email or your airline’s app.
  • Take a screenshot of the boarding pass barcode, tap Add to Google Pay > Save > View boarding pass.

How to Add a Boarding Pass to the iPhone Wallet App

The iOS Wallet app is used to manage gift cards, e-tickets, club memberships, and boarding passes and—like Google Pay—can be used for making digital purchases. Mobile boarding passes can sometimes be added to the Wallet app automatically if your device detects it. If it doesn’t, all you need to do is tap the Add to Apple Wallet button on the airline’s website or within the email or app.

Do I Need to Print My Boarding Pass?

You shouldn’t need to print your boarding pass out on paper as all of the needed information is available within the mobile version of the code, the airline’s app, and the various emails they’ve sent you.

Mobile boarding passes are more secure than traditional ones as they’re stored on your smart device away from the prying eyes of scammers. If found, paper boarding passes can be used to hack into your frequent flyer account and potentially steal your points and financial information.

If, for some reason, you’re unable to use your mobile boarding pass at the airport due to a technical failure, airline staff will print you out a traditional paper version to use instead. This isn’t something that you need to worry about.

What Do I Do With a Mobile Boarding Pass?

The exact procedure for what to do with a boarding pass differs depending on the airport you use, whether you’re flying domestically or internationally, and what airline you’re travelling with.

Afraid of an app or technical error? Take a screenshot of your mobile boarding pass barcode. This way you can quickly access it from your device’s photos app.

Generally, all you need to do is to show your boarding pass to airline and airport staff when asked by opening up whichever app you have it stored in on your smartphone. Depending on your airline, your boarding pass may even display automatically on your smartphone’s screen when you arrive at the airport. To make sure everything goes smoothly, turn your device’s screen brightness up, and if it doesn't display automatically, navigate to the boarding pass barcode while waiting in line at the airport.