Bar Coded Boarding Passes (BCBP)

Posted: 3 December 2008 | Eric Léopold, Project Manager, Bar Coded Boarding Passes | No comments yet

An interview with Mr. Eric Léopold, Project Manager, Bar Coded Boarding Passes (BCBP).

An interview with Mr. Eric Léopold, Project Manager, Bar Coded Boarding Passes (BCBP).

What exactly is the BCBP project?

The BCBP project will move the industry to boarding passes that use an IATA standard 2D barcode, eliminating the need for magnetic stripe boarding passes.

This has been initiated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Board of Governors as a key priority in 2004 as part of its Simplifying the Business programme – an industry initiative designed to cut costs and improve service at the same time. BCBP provides more opportunities for airports, more convenience for passengers and will save the industry over US $500 million per year.

In 2007, IATA introduced a mobile BCBP standard, enabling the issuance of boarding passes via mobile phones and offering a paperless travel experience to passengers. Boarding passes can now be printed at home, or at the office, or delivered through a mobile phone – allowing passengers to skip the check-in desk.

What do you hope to achieve?

The IATA Board of Governors has issued a mandate requiring all airlines to use bar coded boarding passes (BCBP). By the end of 2010, all boarding passes must be bar coded.

Is it mainly passengers who will see the benefits of BCBP?

BCBP is a win-win situation for passengers, airlines, airports and ground handlers. Passengers can now receive their boarding pass before arriving at the airport. Airlines that are participating in this project do not need to maintain expensive ATB stock. Airports will need fewer check-in desks per flight, and as a result will have the flexibility to use that space to generate more revenue. Also, as bar coded readers and equipment are cheaper to purchase and maintain, ground handlers will also gain from this initiative.

What sort of support will IATA be offering in addition?

IATA is committed to helping the industry become BCBP capable. 2010 is fast approaching. To meet the deadline, planning for 100% BCBP needs to start now. IATA has made the following resources available to assist in BCBP implementation:

  • The BCBP Matchmaker is a free of-charge secure website that allows airlines and airports to work together to achieve 100% BCBP. Airlines and airports can exchange messages with airlines and plan together the move to 100% BCBP. The matchmaker is available at
  • The third edition of the BCBP implementation guide is now available online. This edition covers the latest developments of the BCBP standard, including 2D bar codes on mobile phones.
  • BCBP workshops take place throughout the year. Airlines and airports are invited to hear first hand about the BCBP project and speak with a subject matter expert.
  • Suppliers are aware of the BCBP mandate. IATA has been working with companies to ensure their products are compatible with the 2D barcode standard.
  • IATA maintains a global network of 83 country offices that can provide local support to the industry.

Is the Bar Coded Boarding Pass tested and used in airports?

I would say that it is more than tested, because we have more than 180 airports that are using Bar Coded Boarding Passes to date. Our goal is to get all of the airports, and by 2010 we expect hundreds to be involved in this programme.

How will you gauge the success of the project?

The success of this project depends on our ability to coordinate efforts across the industry. Every month we engage 200 airlines and over 1,000 airports through IATA’s global network. Once we have all of those airlines and airports reporting that 100% of the boarding passes that they are printing are bar code enabled, we will consider the project complete.

To monitor progress, we track the BCBP capability of airlines and airports in the BCBP Matchmaker, including the number of passengers per airline, per airport, per week.

How do you see the project evolving over time?

Up until now, the project has been focusing on capability – making sure that airlines and airports are able to issue at least one bar coded boarding pass. Beginning in 2009, IATA will shift its focus from capability to 100% BCBP. This means working extensively with industry stakeholders to increase BCBP usage and deliver the benefits to airlines, airports, passengers and ground handlers.

Who will be responsible for what?

The airlines will be responsible for the upgrade of their systems, while the airports will be responsible for taking care of the equipment. The airlines and airports are already working together to coordinate implementation in order to avert any major problems.

What risks does the project face?

The industry is in crisis. The main risk IATA faces is that airlines won’t act on BCBP due to budget cuts. But the fact is that BCBP offers a quick return on investment and substantial savings to airlines – not to mention better service to passengers.

Technology shift is also a risk IATA faces – if a new technology is introduced, it could shift the industry’s focus from Bar Coded Board Passes.