Wow. I had heard about paperless boarding passes and think I saw a sign about it in an airport once, but I had never experienced it first-hand until last weekend. I was on my way to Cincinnati for a wedding, and Delta gave me the option of checking in online. Nice! But to my utter excitement, when it came time to print my boarding pass, it gave me the option of sending it to my mobile device! I was a little skeptical, and was prepared to print out the boarding pass anyway as backup. But sure enough, at the click of a button, I had my boarding pass sent to my phone almost instantly via text message. All I had to do was tap the link on the message and there popped up my boarding pass.

Of course, I still felt strange going straight to security with just my phone in hand. But the TSA guy just scanned my phone as if it were a regular piece of paper, and then gave me a (surprisingly tattered) laminated green card that said “I checked in with my mobile phone and have passed security.” When I went through security, I just handed them the green card, and I was on my way.

I’m still in shock by how simple the whole process was. This must be how people felt when e-tickets first came out on the scene. Remember when we used to actually have tickets mailed to us? In about ten years, paper boarding passes will seem as archaic as that.