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Alaska Airlines adds Apple Passbook support for boarding passes

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Alaska Airlines on Thursday updated its official iPhone application to allow customers to access digital boarding passes through Apple's Passbook service.

The upgraded Alaska Airlines iOS application uses Urban Airship's PassTools solution to create Passbook boarding passes that can be dynamically updated with new seat assignments, flight times and airport gate numbers. Using either the application or the Alaska Airlines website, travelers can now save their boarding pass to Passbook, and the ticket will automatically appear on their iPhone lock screen once they arrive at the airport.

To use the new Passbook functionality, users simply load their boarding pass through the Alaska Airlines application. There, they are presented with a scannable QR code along with an "Add to Passbook" button that will generate a digital boarding pass in the iPhone's official Passbook application.

"While we’ve enabled electronic boarding passes for some time through our own native apps, support for Apple Passbook will offer our customers additional mobile functionality guaranteed to make the travel experience even easier," said Curtis Kopf, VP of Customer Innovation, Alaska Airlines. "This has been a big request from customers.”

The updated application also sends push messages to Alaska Airlines customers with real-time flight alerts and check-in reminders.

"The combination of push messaging and passes offer an easy and powerful solution to drive delightful customer experiences that earn their continued mobile loyalty," said Scott Kveton, co-founder and CEO of Urban Airship. "We've focused on making it easy for all businesses to create and manage Passbook passes, including the industrial strength security and scalability that enterprises require."

Passbook support can be found in version 2.6 of the official Alaska Airlines application, which is now available as a free download on the App Store. The software is a 7.8-megabyte download that requires iOS 5.0 or later, and it is optimized for the 4-inch display of the iPhone 5.


Launched with the release of iOS 6, Apple's Passbook allows users to store items like digital tickets, reward cards, and more. The feature has seen some uptake from a number of large service providers and venues.

While Apple hasn't offered any specifics on the adoption of Passbook since its launch, some of the largest Passbook partners have indicated initial success with the platform. For example, Major League Baseball said last year that Apple's Passbook accounted for 12 percent of the league's e-tickets during a trial run, leaving officials "floored" with the results and setting the stage for it to be accepted at 13 MLB stadiums in the 2013 season.

Data collected by marketing firm Vibes also noted that Starbucks has said about 20 percent of its active 7 million mobile payments users from around the world are now using Passbook. And the Sephora Beauty Inside card was added by more than 20,000 users within 24 hours of its launch.