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Dear Southwest – Why Can’t I Find Your Mobile Boarding Pass?

Dear Southwest,

You pride yourself on being a “green” airline with your numerous Environmental Initiatives – and I appreciate them greatly! I respect that you separate your recycling from garbage in flight, adding winglets to help with fuel economy, etc. HOWEVER – I think you’re missing a major opportunity in the vein of being green.

When I used your app for online check in last week, I was certain my request wasn’t processing – why wasn’t it showing me a mobile boarding pass? (After all, that’s why I love Passbook!)

After a few tries, I hopped on my laptop with the same result. I couldn’t find ANY way to retrieve a boarding pass without printing it at home or in the airport. According to your FAQ’s, you offer them. But I couldn’t receive a mobile boarding pass despite my best efforts. On top of this, apparently you haven’t updated your app to work with Passbook (you say it will be texted or emailed – but this never happened). This means every passenger with Southwest is printing a boarding pass at home, work or airport kiosk. Let’s check some numbers.

According to your website, the following averages exist:

  • 3,600 flights daily
  • 138 seats per flight
  • 21.1 Million flights have been booked in the last 12 months

Based on these numbers, you have the capacity of 496,800 passengers per day if all seats are full. Even if it’s only an average of 75% full (just for arguments sake… but I haven’t been on a plane less than 90% full in the last 5 years), it’s approximately 372,600 passengers. 

That means between 1.36 and 1.81 MILLION flights are taken per year on your airline alone…. and every single passenger is printing at least one piece of paper per flight. And that’s just in one year.

Why isn’t this option being pushed? Why is it like pulling teeth? For someone like myself who is interested in the option, it shouldn’t have been so impossible to accomplish. 

A few easy ways to get people to use your mobile boarding pass option:
  • Reminder in their “Your Flight is Around the Corner!” email
    • Emails are sent automatically
  • Prompting them via online check in
    • This never happened during my check in. Why not?
  • Airport kiosk staff suggesting it to passengers 
    • Would help decrease the line for passengers w/carry on bags, would speed up check in time for others
These options cost you nothing once the app is modified. It will save you money and help our environment. 

Come on, guys. It’s 2014. And if “being green” is as important to you as I think it is, save the trees! Make it obvious for those who will use it! Let’s fast track this party so we can keep our boarding passes in Passbook

What do you think? Do you use mobile boarding passes or Passbook?