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6/20/2008
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Delta Airlines Tests Cell Phone Boarding Pass

The program, in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration, is being tested at New York's LaGuardia Airport on some flights.

A cell phone may help Delta Airlines passengers avoid long lines at the airport.

The carrier, in partnership with the Transportation Security Administration, is testing a paperless mobile check-in at New York's LaGuardia Airport. Additionally, the program allows customers with Internet-enabled phones to download an electronic boarding pass directly on their handsets.

"Passengers can now quickly check in for their flight while en route to the airport in a taxi or walking from the parking lot to the terminal," said Steve Gorman, executive VP at Delta, in a statement. "The check-in process now can take place from anywhere, at any time within 24 hours of flight departure.

Customers could proceed to the security checkpoint where TSA agents would scan the electronic pass from the mobile phone. Users would still have to show identification before being allowed through security.

After getting though security, the passenger could present this electronic boarding pass at the departure gate, and then get on the plane. Currently, the test program is only available for domestic flights.

Delta said it has plans to utilize mobile devices for additional services in the future. These are expected to include standby upgrades, round-trip check-in, and using text messaging for checking in.

This method of check-in could eventually help airlines save money by eliminating printing costs, and it could also improve customer satisfaction. Last December, Continental Airlines was the first U.S. carrier to test this type of mobile check-in program.

For both programs, the airlines worked with TSA to develop an encryption plan for boarding passes on the mobile devices.

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