American Airlines’ app can now scan your passport
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Mobile apps have undoubtedly made travel a smoother process. They allow even minimally tech-savvy travelers to avoid some lines and cut down on the documents they need to keep track of.
For international travelers though, the apps have had some limits. Though most airlines allow passengers headed to destinations in other countries to check in on their devices, an in-person passport check was still often required prior to boarding.
But American Airlines has announced an update to its app that would eliminate that step.
Passengers can now scan the data chip embedded in their passports using the built-in reader on iPhones or Android’s devices. Using the app to scan the chip — technically known as the Near Field Communication (NFC) chip — means travelers can self-verify their passport and won’t need to have it checked at the airport.
American said it is the first airline to introduce the function on its app.
“We are continuously adding features to our app to make travel easier and worry-free for our customers,” Maya Leibman, American’s chief information officer, said in a Wednesday statement. “Mobile passport scanning removes a time-consuming step, providing our customers with a smoother check-in experience for international flights.”
The updated app provides on-screen instructions to help customers complete the scan correctly.
According to Andrea Koos, a spokeswoman for the airline, only a small percentage of app users will see the new feature Wednesday, but it will roll out to all users in the coming days.
Koos also said that there are a few limitations on the feature right now. Currently, it will only work for single-traveler itineraries, but the functionality will be expanded to work for multi-passenger ones in a future update.
In addition, Koos said that during testing the airline realized that some frequent travelers may have broken the chips in their passport — those who didn’t heed the warning on the last page that says in bold type, “This document contains sensitive electronics. For best performance, do not bend, perforate or expose to extreme temperatures.”
While passengers carrying a passport from any country may use the feature, Koos said some countries may not embed NFC chips into their documents. Others embed them in locations other than where the U.S. does (behind the back cover of the document). So, she said, users with other kinds of passports may need to experiment with different scanning locations for the best performance, or may not be able to use the feature if their booklet doesn’t have the right technology.
American’s last major app update, which came out earlier this fall, introduced push notifications for boarding.
Featured photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.