Mobile Phones - Access All Areas

By: Andy Adams

How often have you been preparing to go on holiday when disaster strikes and you can't find the super secret hiding place you put the plane tickets months ago? Many people have experienced this panic and with new proposals being put forward soon we may be able to cut out this added stress to our pre-holiday regimen.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade association representing and the airline industry, has agreed on a new method of checking in for flights where travellers can have a bar code on their mobile phones scanned upon arrival.

Many people currently are able to print out their flight information at home over the internet and bring that to airport as opposed to the old magnetic strip tickets, but with air travel receiving heavy criticism from the "green crowd" IATA has clearly seen mobile phones as a more eco-friendly method of getting passenger's tickets to them.

These plans have already been given the green light and now major airlines are considering implementing them. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have expressed their interest whilst Ryanair has dismissed the idea.

BA in particular has some concerns, since there is no universal standard with mobile phones such as screen size and media messaging capabilities. Some airlines have expressed concerns over the added work involved, citing that the whole process benefits the passenger but causes extra trouble for the airlines.

If these concerns are resolved then the scheme could be rolled out as early as 2008, with a target for the old paper-based tickets to be obsolete by 2010. If this were to happen then there is a potential saving of $500m (about ?250m) by adopting the paperless system.

But as with most technological advances, the Far East is already pioneering these practices and Tokyo's Narita Airport uses mobile phones equipped with barcodes as boarding passes, with passengers registering their fingerprints upon arrival.

Mobile phones are not only being used like this for boarding passes but also in other ticket related arenas. One other such use is tickets for music concerts. Earlier this year at London's Hammersmith Apollo, Nokia sponsored a Guns n' Roses concert and used it as the perfect platform to launch its TicketRush venture, where concert-goers order their tickets and are sent a text message with a unique code to present at the door.

The scheme was deemed enough of a success that later in this year other artists are joining Nokia to provide mobile phone ticket allocation for popular artists, with as Kasabian, Rihanna and Queens of The Stone Age all listed as upcoming dates.

The use of this system helps provide a more secure way for fans to get a ticket, since in the past ticket touts would scour the crowds outside venues with convincing fake tickets to sell at extortionate prices, only for punters to be turned away at the door.

Another similar use has been at Manchester City Football Club, again to provide more security and convenience to the customer. A spokesman says: "Mobile contactless services will mean the end of bulging wallets - there will be no need to carry credit and debit cards, travel cards, loyalty cards and security passes. And, we will still be able to provide the information and match information for football fans on their mobile phones."

There have even been talks for mobile phones to be used as methods of payment for food outlets and the club store at the venue.

So it seems that mobile phones are on the brink of gaining a whole new batch of uses, showing there are many new and convenient ways of integrating into our lives and culture.

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