Android may soon be able to detect boarding passes in Chrome

Google Chrome logo on an Android phone held in one hand.
(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Chrome for Android will soon be able to detect boarding passes, but we don't know exactly what the feature will be used for.
  • The upcoming addition was spotted in a Chrome Flag in Chrome Canary, which is a pre-beta version of Chrome intended strictly for developer use.
  • Chrome will be able to look for boarding passes in any open tab, using Google's database of airline URLs as a reference, which could be used for other types of boarding passes as well. 

Google has made a lot of upgrades to Google Wallet on Android, and it looks like the tool could get even better in the future. There's a new experimental Chrome Flag in the Chrome Canary app, which is used by developers and is a pre-beta version of Chrome. The flag is called Boarding Pass Detector, and it could be used to make adding passes to the Google Wallet easier on Android. 

The new flag was discovered by AssembleDebug, a user on the GApps Flags & Leaks group on Telegram (via Android Police). Flags are added to Google Chrome so that developers and average users alike can both try out new features before they're released. 

The Boarding Pass Detector flag was added to Chrome Canary version 121.0.6145.0, so you won't be able to find it from the default Chrome app on Android. However, it's easily discoverable by searching "Boarding Pass Detector" on the Chrome Flags page in Chrome Canary. 

The Boarding Pass Detector in Chrome Flags.

(Image credit: Brady Snyder / Android Central)

The new Boarding Pass Detector flag isn't exactly hidden, and you can jump straight to it by entering chrome://flags#boarding-pass-detector in the URL bar of Chrome Canary. While this doesn't guarantee the flag will actually be used with an Android feature, it's a pretty clear indicator Google is working to simplify adding boarding passes in Google Wallet. 

The Boarding Pass Detector can be enabled in Chrome Canary, but it doesn't appear to do anything yet. It seems likely that this flag could be used to automatically add boarding passes to the Google Wallet or prompt users to add them to their wallets manually. The detector could theoretically be used to view other information included with passes, like departure times or gates. There's no way to know for sure until Google is ready to officially debut the Boarding Pass Detector with a related Android feature.

The GApps Flags & Leaks community was able to figure out a few things about the Boarding Pass Detector, though. It functions by scanning open tabs to see if any URLs match those of airlines listed by Google. Then the flag detects if there is any boarding pass information on the tabs, and the first things that come to mind are surely QR codes and barcodes. However, it could possibly detect other things as well. 

We don't know when — or if — a feature related to Boarding Pass Detection will come to Android users, but it looks like a feature we should pay attention to. 

Brady Snyder

Brady is a tech journalist covering news at Android Central. He has spent the last two years reporting and commenting on all things related to consumer technology for various publications. Brady graduated from St. John's University in 2023 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. When he isn't experimenting with the latest tech, you can find Brady running or watching sports.