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Review: Apple's 'Passbook' for Boarding Passes Disappoints

My first experience using Apple's new Passbook app released with iOS 6 last month for my mobile boarding passes wasn't that impressive. Most of my disappointment, though, was my own fault. (Read more: Apple: Swipe Your iPhone 5 'Passbook')

Darren Booth for CNBC

Passbook is a free app that automatically appears, when upgrading to iOS 6 on your iPhone. In addition to airline boarding passes, Passbook aims to be a one-stop shop for retail coupons, coffee cards and concert tickets — all with the swipe of your smartphone.

I spent a quick 24 hours in Chicago this past weekend for a wedding, flying out from Los Angeles on Saturday and returning on Sunday. When I checked-in online with United Airlines on Friday, I expected the boarding pass to automatically populate on my Apple iPhone in the Passbook app. It didn't. United's parent is United Continental Holdings .

What I failed to realize is that there's an additional step required to have boarding passes appear in Passbook. I reviewed my boarding pass on United's mobile app and noticed an "Add to Passbook" button. After pressing it, the boarding pass did indeed populate in Passbook on my iPhone.

When I arrived at LAX on Saturday morning, my boarding pass appeared on my locked screen as expected. I tried clicking it to view it but nothing happened. What I failed to realize (and I feel ridiculous for not trying this) is that you have to swipe the prompt from left to right to open the actual boarding pass. I unlocked my phone, entered the Passbook app and used it to pass through security and board my flight.

For Sunday's flight, I noticed Saturday's boarding pass was still on Passbook. I had the correct boarding pass open for scanning at security, but either I touched the old one or by moving my phone it re-opened Saturday's boarding pass and I scanned the wrong one initially.

I'm surprised old boarding passes don't automatically delete from Passbook post departure. You have to manually delete them.

Delayed Updates on Gate Changes

One issue that wasn't my fault was my gate assignment didn't appear on the Passbook boarding pass even though the version in United's mobile app showed the gate. And the gate appeared on United's displays in the terminal. It wasn't until about an hour and a half before departure that the Passbook boarding pass displayed the gate assignment.

Have you used Passbook for airline boarding passes? How was your experience?

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