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There’s no denying that we are living in an increasingly digital world and fewer and fewer things are printed out or have physical copies. One area where this has played out is with airline boarding passes. Several years ago, it was fairly common for the vast majority of travelers to have paper boarding passes. Now, when I fly, I see it about 50/50 (and even higher in the direction of mobile boarding passes on some flights). So, you might be wondering if you should print your boarding pass and whether it still makes sense to print your boarding pass, rather than using a message or screenshot on your phone or the airline’s mobile app.
Most times that I travel, I do NOT print my boarding pass, and I’ll explain why.
Pros and Cons of Printing Your Boarding Pass
But first, let’s talk through some of the pros and cons of printing your boarding pass:
Pros of Printing Your Boarding Pass
- You don’t have to worry about your phone battery dying
- May be easier with multiple people / families traveling together
- Still accessible after your flight
Cons of Printing Your Boarding Pass
- It has your travel and some personal information on it (more important before you board)
- One more thing to keep track of
- What do you do with it when you’re done?
- Spends paper and ink (a minor expense but still)
Why I (Almost) Never Print My Boarding Pass
So I almost never print out my boarding pass when I travel by myself or with only 1 or 2 other people. Instead, I will either use the airline’s mobile app (I have just about all of them downloaded on my phone) or have them text or email me a virtual boarding pass. Then I just pull it up on my phone at security, at the lounge or while boarding. This works pretty well and there has only been one time where this has bitten me.
I was arriving back home at CVG and wanted to stop by The Club CVG on arrival to get a quick snack before heading back home. I had arrived on a Delta flight and used the Delta mobile app to access my boarding pass. But when I went to the lounge after my flight and tried to pull up my boarding pass, it was gone! Because the flight was already over, the boarding pass was not in the app any more and I didn’t have a paper copy to show them. Thankfully the lounge staff was able to figure it out and admit me to the lounge.
So that’s why I recommend if you are going to not print your boarding pass and use a mobile boarding pass, that you take a screenshot (or save it to your phone’s wallet) rather than relying on the app or an email or text message. That way it’s on your phone locally and you don’t have to worry about any Internet connection issues.
Becoming Your Parents With “Old Man” Airport Behaviors
A few months ago, I shared one of the Progressive “Becoming Your Parents” commercials, which I find hilarious and legitimately the only commercials that I will actually go out of my way to watch. Perhaps it’s because I feel so “seen”… One of them involved going to the airport and listed out a variety of “old man” airport behaviors.
The video shows everyone with paper boarding passes (though for some reason they call them “tickets”) and Dr. Rick comments that we are “off to a horrible start”. In the comments of the original post, many people took offense to this and talked about how smart it was to print out your boarding pass. I get the rationale behind it, and I think it can make sense in certain situations. It’s just not something that I usually do.
The One Time I Print My Boarding Pass
The one time that I will print out boarding passes is if I’m traveling with my entire family. Almost all of my kids have their own phones by now, so in theory they could manage their own mobile boarding passes, but I guess I’m just too much of a planner (aka control freak).
So I prefer to just keep all the boarding passes myself and hand them out when we’re ready to board (or access a lounge). That way I know we have them and that nobody is going to lose them.
The Bottom Line
Should you print your boarding pass? Or just use the mobile boarding pass that’s available via email, text message or the airline’s mobile app? There are pros and cons to printing your boarding pass, but usually I just save the paper and ink and access my boarding pass on my phone. If you do decide not to print your boarding pass, I do recommend that you take a screenshot of your boarding pass so that you don’t have to worry about any network issues when trying to get your boarding pass.
What about you? Do you think you should print your boarding pass? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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Awful advice. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS print your BPass. I’ve had each of the following happen – while rare they DO occur and you’ll wish you had a printed BP in hand when they do. TSA scanners are acting weird – printed BP will get you in. Phone screen freezes and requires a reboot – printed BP saves you again. And what about that rare instance where your FF points don’t post?
Having a printed BP will make the process much easier to get your credit.
Another rarely mentioned benefit is that printing a BP at the airport kiosk shows you checked in AT the airport so if something bizarre happens and you’re not at the gate in time then the airport staff KNOWS you’re actually AT the airport which could get you another minute or two to reach the gate before they close the boarding door.
There’s nothing noble about not printing one and having it just in case.
I’m with you, I don’t print my PB, unless… I am flying internationally. It’s so much easier to print at the kiosk and put the bp in my passport on the picture page. The amount of times you have to show both just saves time and the hassle of getting out the phone so many times.
That’s a good point about international travel
In July 2022 and departing Manila Airport (NAIA) for my flight to Guam, security personnel at NAIA requested a hard copy of my boarding pass, they would not accept the QR code on my smart phone.
I only print if I am flying on a paid flight and trying to earn miles with a different airline. Flying Condor but posting to Alaska is 50/50 if it works and then they ask for a boarding pass
I always print one as it allows me to then just stick my phone in my carry-on bag before security and not have to worry about it until I am through security. It may be easier for me because I’m older and I don’t feel the need to be attached to my phone 24/7.
Last time that I flew, a lady was talking on her phone up until she had to put it down to put it on the X-ray belt. That is just crazy.
I save the printed one until the flight posts.
I’m slowly shifting to electronic/mobile boarding passes but agree with @Nathan that it’s highly advisable to print and have your paper boarding pass(es) tucked inside your passport on international travel.