updated 4/25/2008 4:54:39 PM ET 2008-04-25T20:54:39

For Continental Airlines passengers, an e-mail enabled cell phone is now as good as a paper boarding pass in a growing number of cities.

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Continental said Friday it would expand its "paperless" boarding system at airports in Newark and Boston over the next two weeks, following up on the introduction of the service this week at Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport. The carrier started the pilot program in December in Houston, where it is based.

Air Canada also offers a paperless boarding pass for its customers.

Boarding passes that Continental e-mails to passengers' cell phones and other handheld devices will display an encrypted bar code along with passenger and flight information. Transportation Security Administration officials will use hand-held scanners to validate the passes.

Eligibility for the service is restricted to passengers flying alone and to domestic destinations. Customers will have the option of signing up for the e-passes when checking-in.

The TSA and Continental, the first U.S. carrier to test the system, said the technology increases the ability to detect fraudulent boarding passes, but also reduces paper consumption and improves customer service.

Continental spokeswoman Mary Clark said she had no details on the costs of the program or how much it would save the airline. She said other airports would be added to the program this year, but would not say which ones or when.

The pilot program was initially started in Houston in December.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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