Southwest customers check in via cellphones and PDAs

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Southwest customers check in via cellphones and PDAs

Flying just became a little easier and faster with Southwest’s new electronic check in. Flyers can use their PDAs and cellular phones to check in, look at schedules and also receive flight status information via the website. Passengers who check in via the mobile website then proceed to the “Rapid” check-in kiosk where they can print out their boarding passes.

The website is specially tailored to the small screens of mobile devices and renders in simple HTML links and black and white text. People can check in all the passengers of a reservation by entering in their confirmation number and the first/last name of one of the passengers. By bypassing the Southwest counter, flyers can save tremendous amounts of time.

Flyers can also download PDF flight schedules from the mobile site. While the site doesn’t offer flight status information, people can subscribe on the main Southwest website to have text messages or Emails beamed to their mobile devices.

We briefly tested out the system with a Nextel Blackberry phone and it worked flawlessly for us. However, we learned that it helps to bookmark the the page as it can be a bit frustrating typing in the address if you are rushing to the airport. The system won’t work for everyone because some groups, like military personnel or minors traveling alone, cannot check in through the mobile website.

Southwest says that in the future the mobile website will also provide flight status information and access to its frequent flyer program.