Dear Lifehacker, I travel regularly and was wondering if you could clear up a question regarding e-ticketing. When away in another state I often want to check in online to ensure I can get the seat I want but can't because I don't have a printer to print the e-ticket on. Can the e-tickets be scanned from a smart phone or iPad by the check-in staff? Thanks, PrintlessDear Printless,
You certainly can take advantage of online check-in without having access to a printer. Broadly speaking, there are two possible scenarios here if you're talking about the major domestic airlines in Australia:
- Both Qantas and Virgin Blue officially offer online check-in via smart phones. In this scenario, you can complete check-in on your phone, and then have a paper boarding slip printed at the gate before you board (or at the check-in if you have luggage).
- Even if you don't have a supported mobile phone, you can generally get away with online check-in if you have access to an Internet-connected PC or tablet prior to your trip. Just check in using the site as normal, and then either check in again using a kiosk at the airport to print your boarding pass (if one is available) or by visiting a counter and explaining that your printer "wasn't working". In my experience, no-one will care in either scenario. Jetstar allows online check-in 48 hours before flying; for Qantas and Virgin Blue, it's 24 hours.
With that said, it is worth noting that the choice of seats you get if you check in in advance won't necessarily be that broad. Qantas lets many of its frequent flyers select seats after they make a booking, and Jetstar lets you choose seats as you make a booking. If lots of people have done that on your flight, the available options might be quite limited — but they'll still probably be better than if you wait until you hit the airport to make a selection.