Using Passbook at KLIA and HKIA

I’ve been itching to use Apple’s passbook ever since it was announced, as it’s an ideal solution for digital tickets. The lack of support from local cinemas so far means that I haven’t found a good opportunity to give it a go. Fortunately as I was checking into my Cathay Pacific flight online, I noticed that there was an option to download the mobile ticket, which was supported by Passbook, so this was a good excuse as any to test it out.

There are a couple of places where you’d usually need your boarding pass, and this is what happened:


  • Check in counter: I was allowed to bypass this step, since I had no check in luggage and my boarding pass was already on my phone.
  • Document check before entering the immigration area: Passbook barcode was scanned using the same scanner that scans the printed boarding pass.
  • Boarding gate: Surprisingly the lady needed to take the extra step to manually verify my digital boarding pass here, though there wasn’t any issue.
  • Boarding the plane: The crew usually asks to see your boarding pass when your get on the plane, but if you tell them your seat number directly, they let it slide, so I didn’t need any boarding pass here.


  • Check in counter: I had already checked in online using the Cathay Pacific mobile app, and I had no trouble when I was purchasing my ferry ticket to HKIA, but the lady wasn’t too sure if I’d run into issues without having a printed boarding pass, so she printed one for me, just in case.
  • Entering HKIA via ferry: There is a security check before entering HKIA by ferry and I made the mistake of handing the the security personnel my passport with the printed boarding pass inside (because that’s where I usually store my boarding pass), so she stamped that and let me through. My assumption is that I could get past this with just my Passbook ticket, but I guess I can only verify this on my next trip. Update: They don’t accept Passbook here. So you’ll need a printed boarding pass. Damn.
  • Boarding gate: No problem.
  • Boarding the plane: No problem.

Things I noticed

  • While the gate number was supposed to automagically update to my Passbook boarding pass, that never happened. The gate number did update after I did a manual pull-to-refresh though.
  • Having the option to have the boarding pass displayed on your lock screen is very useful, since it gives me quick access to my boarding pass.
  • Shopping at the airport usually requires your passport and boarding pass, I managed to make it work with Passbook and my boarding pass.

It’s good to see Passbook support increasing. I know that Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Airbnb already support it. I’m definitely looking forward to more services supporting it, especially the local cinemas, since I’m not overly fond of their mobile apps.


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