Online travel agent, Cleartrip has launched paper-less tickets for flight, hotel and train bookings via Apple’s Passbook. Cleartrip Passes display important information about the traveler’s trip upfront with additional details on the reverse of the pass. The site has also enabled location and time-based Passbook notifications, so that passes automatically pop-up on the user’s smartphone’s screen, close to the time when they’re required.
According to the company, passes have been designed to conform to Apple guidelines and are available for iPhone and iPod Touch devices running iOS 6 or higher, and any Mac running OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.2 or later). These passes are also supported on Android through third-party apps such as PassWallet and other apps available from the Google Play store. All confirmation emails sent by Cleartrip will now have a pass file attached in addition to the PDF ticket. In addition, passes will also be available from within the traveler’s Cleartrip Account through desktop or mobile browsers, from where travellers will be able to e-mail them. It’s commendable that Cleartrip has taken a lead in offering Passbook integration in India and we hope that other OTAs and Airlines also start offering similar integration, and make this a standard.
Apple’s Passbook app: Apple offers a dedicated Passbok app (to iPhone and iPod touch users via iOS 6) that lets users store boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and other passes. The passes can be added through apps, emails, and websites from participating airlines, theaters, stores, and others, and used to check in for a flight, get into a movie, and redeem a coupon.
Tripit connection: It’s interesting to note that Concur Technologies which had invested in Cleartrip in April 2011, had also acquired Tripit, a service that allows travellers to organize and share travel plans. Tripit also offers an app that lets users organize virtual boarding passes, and manage itineraries. Apple’s passbook kind of made Tripit obsolete on the iOS platform.
Need for paperless air tickets: These passes will offer details through QR codes, as well, which can be utilized by Airlines for checking-in passengers before boarding. However, in India, paper-less boarding passes are not supported at the moment. Note that travelers require printed tickets to get entry into Airports and to get boarding passes from airlines after checking-in. Although, a few days back, the Indian Government had sanctioned that Indian airports will accept virtual tickets, following a notification from India’s Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, it didn’t specify exactly when, and till last week, Airport security (at least at Mumbai Airport) had no clue about the order. Airlines charge a sum (Rs 50 per printout) for giving printouts in case a traveler forgets to bring one along.
While it may take time to get rid of paper boarding passes (although it will save costs for low fare airlines), the authorities can easily get rid of paper tickets to save costs and wastage of paper, which in turn is good for the environment, and more convenient for passengers. Also, it’s bizzarre how airport security requires tickets for granting people entry into Airports, when they have no means to verify whether information listed in the printouts is valid (We’ve never seen them use a barcode reader). It’s essential for the government to spread awareness about the use of paperless tickets and it should train security staff and other employees involved with ground handling on their use. The Indian Railways already allows travellers to use virtual tickets, so it shouldn’t be difficult.