It looks like Apple Passbook in iOS 6 will get some big traction from airlines for mobile boarding passes. If Apple goes ahead eventually with a full-fledged iTravel offering, then that could be a different story entirely.
With Apple expected to unleash iOS 6 next week, you can expect Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and undoubtedly other carriers to be supporting Passbook’s mobile boarding pass functionality at launch or soon thereafter.
With Passbook, you’d be able to scan your iPhone or iPod as mobile boarding passes at airport gates for airlines that support the feature. Passbook would even automatically display the boarding pass when you arrive at the airport.
A spokesperson for American Airlines reveals it will be “rolling out an app update in the coming weeks in support of Passbook. In the meantime, customers can still access their mobile boarding passes in the current version of American’s mobile app.”
And, Delta is known to be actively working on supporting Passbook’s functionality for mobile boarding passes, although the airline wouldn’t talk about it publicly.
Like many travel app publishers, Delta’s first mobile app was for the iPhone, in September 2010.
A spokesperson for United Airlines declined to comment on whether it has any plans for Passbook.
However, United’s logo is used in Apple’s photos depicting Passbook so it wouldn’t be surprising if United is on board.
On the rail front, Amtrak’s logo is in Apple’s Passbook pics, as well.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia reportedly is already supporting Passbook, which also stores movie tickets, loyalty cards and coupons, in addition to mobile boarding passes.
A Virgin Australia passenger was running a developers’ preview version of iOS 6 on his iPhone, and Passbook detected his airline boarding pass and asked whether he wanted to store it in Passbook, Australian Business Traveler reports.
Passbook’s location-based features are geared to surface your mobile boarding passes when you reach the airport so there would be no fumbling around trying to dig out your boarding pass from some long-forgotten email.
“And if your gate changes after you’ve checked in for your flight, Passbook will even alert you to make sure you’re not relaxing in the wrong terminal,” Apple states.
If some airlines are feeling trepidatious about Apple inserting itself with Passbook into the passenger-carrier relationship, the early signs from American, Delta and Virgin Australia, at least, are that the advantages may outweigh such concerns.