Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Air Canada Paperless Boarding Pass .. On Paper ...

Location: Ontario, Toronto
Industry: Transportation
Air Canada

I travelled recently with Air Canada from Toronto to London and I decided to try out their new "Paperless Boarding Pass". I think they introduced this "Paperless Boarding Pass" few months ago and allowed travellers to checkin with their PDA or cellphone. Here is how it works:

1) You checkin in advance through the Air Canada website
2) They send the boarding pass to your PDA/cellphone as a text message
3) You can also print a paper copy as a reference (I didn't do that cuz I think the whole point is to save paper !)

So I went to the Web Checkin Bag Drop Off counting, and there seems to be a problem with the luggage belt, so the queue moved slooower than the regular checkin line and people are already start complaining. After 20 minutes of wait, it's finally my turn. And here's the conversation with the Air Canada Staff:

Staff: "Where are you travelling to?"

Me: "London"

Staff: "This is for Montreal, please go to counter K"

Me: "Oh I have a connection flight at Montreal"

Staff: "So you are going to Montreal"

Me: "Yes, and my final destination is London"

Staff: "I don't need to know your final destination, where are you going ? Are you going to Montreal ??"

Me (Showing her my booking reference): "Toronto to MONTREAL, then MONTREAL to London. So will my luggage be travelled all the way to London or do I need to re-checkin at Montreal ??"

Staff: "Depends on how your booking is ... Okay it will go all the way to London"

Me: "Thanks."

Staff (Typing and checking): "Did you check in online at home ?"

Me: "Yes"

Staff: "Ok, next time if you checkin at home, please let us know, so that I don't need to look for your boarding pass"

Me thinking: "wow, what's the point of this web checkin bag dropping counter. and what a great integrated web online checkin solution"

So finally I finish with the counter lady and I started worrying about my "paperless boarding pass", will they security accept that ? will the boarding staff accept that ? mmm .. I doubted it.

Anyways, it actually went fine until my connection at Montreal. I show the security the boarding pass and he gave me the look of "What the heck is that ? Are you trying to fool me?". So he brought me to the boarding counter and the counter lady told me I cannot use that, I have to go through security again to get the printed one. After I discussed with her what's the point of having a paperless boarding pass for few minutes, I don't have to go back out to security. She just PRINTED a PAPER boarding pass for me on the spot told me that they are not up to the technology yet.

So for anyone who would like to try the paperless boarding pass, be sure you also print a paper copy with you to save the hassle. I still think it's a good initiative, but the solution and execution has yet to be approved.

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