Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How to Set Up and Use Airline Boarding Passes in Wallet

Adam C. Engst:

I’m sure many of you are nodding your heads in agreement, or wondering why I’m telling you all this. I’m no frequent flyer, so I’m sure that these improvements have been obvious to road warriors for a while. But I wanted to document how to do all this because I saw a lot of people still relying on paper boarding passes on that last trip. The experience of relying on an iPhone is so good, and so much better than dealing with paper, that if you’ve avoided it so far, I urge you to give it a try next time. But feel free to print a paper boarding pass as a backup until you’re comfortable with using your iPhone instead!


At the end of the check-in process, the apps I’ve used have provided a relatively clear Add to Wallet link or button. Tap it, and when it hands you off to Wallet, make sure everything looks correct in the boarding pass and then tap the Add link in the upper-right corner. You may or may not need to do this for each boarding pass; check to see what’s in Wallet after the first one. Now you’re ready for when you go to the airport.

I’d still want a paper copy in case my iPhone spontaneously shuts down. Also, sometimes they won’t let you swipe the pass yourself, and I don’t want to hand my iPhone to the attendant. I admit to not really appreciating the benefit of Wallet here. It’s an extra step to use, but then you can access the boarding pass from the lock screen instead of having to open the app. And maybe it saves you from having to rely on the airline app at the critical moment? I’ve twice had an airline app stop working after arriving at the airport but before boarding. So now I always take a screenshot of the boarding pass just in case.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

I don't see it as an extra step. Your boarding pass is automatically shown on your lock screen based on departure time. At most you need to swipe to display it, but that's it. Compared to having to deal with two printed boarding passes (when connecting) and remembering to use the right one, Passbook/Wallet has been a godsend. I have traveled frequently for years and Passbook was a huge win. On the rare occasion that my phone died it was trivially easy to print out a boarding pass when needed. Gate agents know what to do.

My one gripe is that I despise the feature where if you double-click the home button it launches Apple Pay/Wallet because if you disable it it also requires you to unlock your phone to display any boarding passes. To me that's a ridiculous pairing. I think this only started happening on iOS 10, although that's also the same OS version where Apple added raise-to-wake, which works so unreliably that everyone who knows how to disable it does, which probably complicates the issue.

@Dan I mean that it’s an extra step to add the pass to Wallet vs. just showing it in the app. Why can’t the app do that automatically? Is there an API restriction or store guideline?

Leave a Comment