Can TSA check Mobile boarding passes?

Old Mar 5, 12, 9:33 am
  #1  
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Can TSA check Mobile boarding passes?

So I'm on the first trip in a couple years and slightly behind the times. Ua gave me the option to use my cellphone as a boarding pass which is cool. I've seen guys hold their phones up to the scanner at the gate to get on the plane. But I'm a bit confused how the tsa id checkers handle it. They like to scribble on the boarding pass and they obviously can't scribble on my phone. Do you have to print a copy for their artwork? If so that seems to defeat the purpose of the mobile pass which saves trees. What am I missing?
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Old Mar 5, 12, 9:43 am
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TSA has a scanner at most all stations, which looks like a small version of what you see at the supermarket. They just check your name, flight info against your ID. Also if the wifi or phone signal is poor, it might take a bit to pull up the barcode, because you get an email with a link after checking in. You press that link to get the bar coded boarding pass.

If you have the UA mobile app, a link to your boarding pass can appear on the home page of your mobile app profile.

I use it all the time. Just remember to have your phone charged up.
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Old Mar 5, 12, 11:03 am
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Originally Posted by jcwoman View Post
But I'm a bit confused how the tsa id checkers handle it. They like to scribble on the boarding pass and they obviously can't scribble on my phone. Do you have to print a copy for their artwork? If so that seems to defeat the purpose of the mobile pass which saves trees. What am I missing?
When you have a mobile boarding pass, there's nothing to write on (as you noted) so they don't write anything. No worries.

Now, some people do carry a back-up paper copy of their boarding pass in case the scanner is kaput. Defeats the purpose of the mobile boarding pass, but saves time from having to get out of line to print one.
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Old Mar 5, 12, 12:02 pm
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They can, just watch to ensure they don't try to write on the screen of your phone. More than one Flyertalker has stopped them from absentmindedly trying to scribble on the screen!
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Old Mar 5, 12, 1:44 pm
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Originally Posted by MKEbound View Post
They can, just watch to ensure they don't try to write on the screen of your phone. More than one Flyertalker has stopped them from absentmindedly trying to scribble on the screen!
I have refused to use a mobile boarding pass for the primary reason that I do not want the TDC to break or steal my phone--or exit the boarding pass app and start looking through the phone's contents--or even ask me what I think about my certain model of phone.

At TLH, a TS"O" had to swab my Motorola Xoom tablet computer in an OtterBox Defender series case for explosives because I left it in my bag; he asked me how I liked the Xoom/OtterBox combo, and I just shrugged and mumbled. I was accused of being hypersensitive for this, but I _really_ did not like being asked that, as it's nobody's business how I "like" the stuff I travel with.
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Old Mar 5, 12, 4:49 pm
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Not sure about elsewhere, but in SAN Terminal 2, the scanner is on the passenger's side of the podium and the screener doesn't get to hold or touch your phone. They didn't have those sorts of podiums at the commuter terminal, though. So you needed paper.

The scribbling is now proven to add no value, since they can't scribble on phones. So why did they EVER do it?
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Old Mar 5, 12, 6:02 pm
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Originally Posted by TheRoadie View Post
Not sure about elsewhere, but in SAN Terminal 2, the scanner is on the passenger's side of the podium and the screener doesn't get to hold or touch your phone. They didn't have those sorts of podiums at the commuter terminal, though. So you needed paper.

The scribbling is now proven to add no value, since they can't scribble on phones. So why did they EVER do it?
In some places it's not a scribble, it's a rubber stamp.
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Old Mar 5, 12, 6:07 pm
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I've never had one want to handle my phone. I always maintain control of it and scan it myself.

Only have had an issue at ORD where the same clerk wanted to see the screen of my phone to know my destination. Told her it was none of her business (in the nicest way possible) and continued towards the lanes.
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Old Mar 6, 12, 7:48 am
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Originally Posted by TheRoadie View Post
Not sure about elsewhere, but in SAN Terminal 2, the scanner is on the passenger's side of the podium and the screener doesn't get to hold or touch your phone. They didn't have those sorts of podiums at the commuter terminal, though. So you needed paper.

The scribbling is now proven to add no value, since they can't scribble on phones. So why did they EVER do it?
Yep, it's make-work. Thanks for the answers. I think I'll still print a boarding pass.
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Old Mar 6, 12, 11:54 am
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I've never had any issue with a mobile BP. On the rare occasion that I've run into a non-scanner equipped TDC, I've simply held the screen up to them so they could read my name, flight number and travel date and they've sent me on my way.

NEVER EVER EVER EVER hand your phone over. You're under no obligation to do so, and the TDC would be breaking SOP to ask you for it (since it becomes a liability issue if they break your phone).
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Old Mar 6, 12, 11:58 am
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You're also under no obligation to explain why you have checks written to yourself, Arabic flash cards, or empty breast-milk bottles and a breast-milk pump, but that doesn't stop the TS"O"s.

Originally Posted by Critic View Post
NEVER EVER EVER EVER hand your phone over. You're under no obligation to do so, and the TDC would be breaking SOP to ask you for it (since it becomes a liability issue if they break your phone).
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Old Mar 6, 12, 5:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Critic View Post
I've never had any issue with a mobile BP. On the rare occasion that I've run into a non-scanner equipped TDC, I've simply held the screen up to them so they could read my name, flight number and travel date and they've sent me on my way.
You're lucky. I have seen TSA send people back to the ticket counter for a BP when 1) readers are not installed or 2) readers are not working. I've seen that happen at IAD, ORD, BWI, and LAX.
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Old Mar 7, 12, 7:38 am
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Originally Posted by Global_Hi_Flyer View Post
You're lucky. I have seen TSA send people back to the ticket counter for a BP when 1) readers are not installed or 2) readers are not working. I've seen that happen at IAD, ORD, BWI, and LAX.
Which is why I still carry a printed copy of my bp "just in case"
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Old Mar 7, 12, 9:32 pm
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Originally Posted by Global_Hi_Flyer View Post
You're lucky. I have seen TSA send people back to the ticket counter for a BP when 1) readers are not installed or 2) readers are not working. I've seen that happen at IAD, ORD, BWI, and LAX.
SEA: Rejected valid BP because the scanner was set (apparently manually) to the wrong date.
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Old Mar 10, 12, 12:44 pm
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Your airline won't issue a mobile boarding pass if you are leaving from an airport that doesn't have the scanners. Some airports have very user-friendly scanners at the TSA check point, but others (notably Seattle) don't, and the checkers have to go find one, borrow one, etc.

My own personal take on it is that the mobile boarding pass is close but not 100% there yet. It's good to take a paper backup just in case.
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