Now you'll really hate it if you lose your boarding pass.
Qantas has announced today that it's going to embrace a wide variety of new online-enabled check-in options for its commercial passengers in 2009, including the option to use your iPhone 3G as your boarding pass.
Some of the initiatives that Qantas is going to bring to market will include online check-in for international customers -- Qantas currently only offers online check-in tools for its domestic customers -- as well as the option to select your seat at the time you book your ticket online, or later on through Qantas' web site. Which presumably means if you don't opt to pre-select your seat online, you're virtually guaranteed to get the worst possible middle seat on just about every flight.
The interesting technology angle here, aside from online e-commerce, is that Qantas is promising that customers who select their seat online can be automatically checked in via a barcode image, sent to a mobile phone, portable device, or PC. Qantas Executive General Manager, John Borghetti, specifically name-drops the iPhone 3G in the official release, stating that "As part of this strategy, Qantas is working to ensure all services are available for customers with the iPhone 3G", although they're clearly not just targeting Apple's oft-hyped phone with the service.
Those thinking that this would be the ideal way to start a lucrative career in drug smuggling should note that the paperless check-in process only covers you for Qantas' essentially bureaucratic role at airports, and you'll still have to pass through security screening as normal. At which point, presumably if you've opted to have your boarding pass sent to your laptop, you'll have to power it down, take it out of its bag, have it scanned, hope it passes through without comment and then power it up again, all the while hoping your battery doesn't go flat, stranding you with no boarding pass whatsoever. And then try to stow it back into your bag while walking onto the plane and having hundreds of other passengers try to clamber past you. Admittedly, this far-fetched but not entirely hypothetical situation shouldn't be a problem for most people.
There's one other scenario we've seen play out a few times in airports with scanned tickets that has us worried, however. We've waited patiently in line to board a plane, only to be delayed because the boarding pass scanning machine has chewed up someone's boarding pass. How annoyed would you be if it chewed up your iPhone 3G?