Southwest Airlines app to include electronic boarding passes

A Southwest Airlines flight approaches McCarran International Airport with the Luxor in the background.

Southwest Airlines is unveiling an updated smartphone app today that will allow passengers to get on their plane by showing a boarding pass on the screen of their phone.

Southwest is rolling out the boarding pass feature gradually, starting Thursday on flights from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas. The system will be rolled out nationwide — including in Las Vegas — next year.

Passengers will have the option of viewing the image or having it sent to an email address or to the phone via text message. Users will be prompted to save the image, which will be scanned at the gate, to their photo galleries.

The Dallas-based airline, the busiest commercial carrier at McCarran International Airport, said the app is available free from the App Store for Apple iPhones and from Google Play for Android devices.

The new version of the Southwest app also includes a quicker-to-navigate menu and the ability to view the number of points earned when purchasing a ticket as a member of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards loyalty club.

The app also will provide airport information.

The company said it is also developing a mobile boarding pass version for Apple Passport.

Southwest unveiled a mobile version of in 2007 and was the first U.S. airline to launch an iPhone app in 2009. In 2010, the airline followed with Android and Blackberry versions.

Through September, Southwest had 12.5 million passengers traveling to and from Las Vegas in 2013, about 40 percent of all passengers at McCarran.