Specific Instances When It's Best To Use A Paper Boarding Pass Over A Mobile One

In general, having your boarding pass on your phone is a very convenient way to keep your ticket easily accessible. Considering everyone is glued to their phones most of the time, you're probably less likely to lose or misplace it compared to a small slip of paper. It's also delivered to you automatically when you check in, so you don't have to worry about printing it at home or heading to the kiosk at the airport. However, if your phone screen is seriously cracked or damaged, your phone is dying, or you tend to throw your device into the bottom of a giant tote bag and forget about it, you might find using a paper boarding pass easier and more reliable.


There are many U.S. airports where you no longer need to show your boarding pass to the TSA, but when traveling internationally, you may find the rules are more strict. In fact, there are also still a few airports, like Oslo and La Rochelle, that won't accept boarding passes on your phone at all. Even if you aren't flying through one of those airports, though, there are many situations where it's better to have a physical, printed paper boarding pass — even if it's only as a backup.

When your phone screen is cracked

We've all been there — your phone slips out of your hand and lands face-down on the ground. When you pick it up, there's a spider web of cracks running all across your screen. If you're lucky, it's just the tempered glass that broke, but unfortunately, it might be the actual screen. As frustrating as this is, especially if it happens while you're jogging across the airport to make your flight, you might be in for another annoying surprise: Your mobile boarding pass might not scan.


This is one of the reasons that some people believe it's always best to just print your boarding pass. A little crack or two around the edges of your screen is no big deal for the scanners at the airport, but if it's a bigger scratch or crack that happens to go through the QR code that the machine needs to read, you might not be able to use your phone for a boarding pass. If you're not sure if it'll work or not, you're still better off printing your pass.

You use your phone a lot, or not at all, while traveling

Even if you don't have any cell service, you can access your boarding pass stress-free by taking a screenshot of the mobile pass as soon as you check in — but that won't do you any good if your phone dies. If you know that you're going to want to watch a TV show, post travel pics to Instagram, or text your group chat updates about your trip while you're waiting around in the airport, you might want to consider printing out a physical paper boarding pass just in case your phone runs out of battery before you can scan your mobile boarding pass.


Of course, if you often lose your cell phone, then you also shouldn't rely on a mobile pass. If you like "raw dogging" your flight with no screen time or prefer reading a book while you wait for your boarding group to be called, as you tend to pack your phone in your suitcase, you're better off sticking a paper boarding pass in your pocket or using it as a bookmark than holding up the line by digging through your bags to find your phone.