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American Airlines just made it easier to check in for international flights


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American Airlines just made it easier to check in for international flights

Dawn Gilbertson USA TODAY Published 3:09 PM EST Dec 4, 2019 Flying American Airlines internationally? Make sure you download the airline’s mobile app to save a little time at the airport. American on Wednesday introduced passport chip scanning to the app, which will eliminate the need to have an American agent scan the passport at…

American Airlines just made it easier to check in for international flights


Dawn Gilbertson


USA TODAY

Published 3:09 PM EST Dec 4, 2019

Flying American Airlines internationally?

Make sure you download the airline’s mobile app to save a little time at the airport.

American on Wednesday introduced passport chip scanning to the app, which will eliminate the need to have an American agent scan the passport at the airport.

The carrier said it is the first airline to use near field communication (NFC) technology to securely transmit passport information. It is the same technology behind cashless payment systems like Apple Pay. Initially it will only be available for trips with one person on the reservation. It will eventually be expanded to reservations with multiple travelers, including families.

Here’s how it works: Travelers checking in for an international flight on the American app will be asked to enter some basic passport information and then use their smartphone or other iOS or Android mobile device to scan the chip on the back page of the passport.

The passport will still need to be shown at the airport during boarding, but it won’t have to be open and scanned, saving passengers and employees time, the airline says. 

“Our customers want it (the self-scanning), but our team members do, too,” said Maya Leibman, American’s chief information officer.

Kevin MacFarland, managing director of digital customer experience for American, said the new feature will especially help with cases where passports weren’t scanned on the domestic leg of an international trip with a connection, say Albuquerque to Santiago, Chile, via Dallas Fort Worth.

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Sometimes passengers are pulled out of the boarding line before the international flight after agents discover their passports haven’t been checked. The airline says as many as 50 passengers on a wide-body jet have to have their passports checked before they board their connecting flight. 

“It reduces that stress at the gate,” MacFarland said.

Travelers who check in on American’s website or at the ticket counter, sky cap or kiosk instead of the app will still need to have their passports checked at the airport.

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