Now Boarding - By Les Shu

United Airlines adds passport scanning to iOS, Android apps for international flights

United Airlines is making the check-in process a bit easier for customers on international flights. The carrier says it is the first U.S. airline to offer passport scanning through its iOS and Android apps

Mobile check-in and boarding passes aren’t new for United (it launched mobile boarding passes in 2007), but the option was only available to domestic fliers; international passengers still had to check in the old-fashioned way, and that could mean waiting in long lines. The new feature now allows you check-in 24 hours in advance, and head straight to baggage drop-off or straight to security.

Here’s how it works: When you check-in for an international flight, the app will verify either stored passport data, or you can scan your passport via your smartphone camera. United says the process is similar to check scanning in banking apps. The scanned data is sent to a third-party verification agency for security purposes. Once you’re cleared, a boarding pass will appear.

Related: United Airlines to launch free in-flight video streaming service, but for iOS only

Unfortunately, passengers requiring additional document checks, such as visas, will still need to see a ticketing agent. Also, scanning your passport doesn’t mean you won’t need to carry a physical passport; you’ll still need it while traveling and going through security.

You’ll still have to deal with frustratingly long security lines, bad food, and overcrowded gate areas as you make your way through the airport, but for those who enjoy using mobile apps to check-in to their flights, this new feature could help alleviate some of the headache. If the trial is successful, don’t be surprised if other airlines follow suit.

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