It’s All About E-tickets in the 21st Century! Why Paper Tickets Have Gone the Way of the Dinosaurs

The world has changed in many ways over the last 25 years. When we all entered into the 21th century 15 years ago we saw a dramatic change in technology. Look what’s happened! We have the amazing Internet which has made our lives so much easier to live. Google has become the new encyclopedia, people are sharing information and connecting with each other on social media, consumers are buying products/services online, people are streaming movies and T.V shows on their computers, and we are depositing checks as well as paying bills on our mobile devices. Wow! That’s pretty sweet!  It’s made our lives so much easier to live but here’s the catch. There are some people that are not up with the times and that’s okay. However, for the past few weeks I’ve been noticing this question being asked frequently which is, “How does your agency produce and deliver paper tickets?” Now if this was 1994 I probably could explain the step-by-step process on how a paper ticket is created and delivered, but in 2015 I can’t explain that. It’s because today our travel counselors actually don’t make paper tickets anymore. In fact, through an IATA mandate back in 2008, the travel industry has moved to creating and distributing 100% of airline tickets electronically. In addition, most airlines prohibit the issuance of paper tickets and many airport personnel are prohibited from accepting paper tickets. I’m guessing you’re wondering how tickets are issued now and what it was like for our travel agents back in the 90’s?


About a couple of weeks ago, I asked my colleagues Chris and Kim about how paper tickets were created and distributed to travelers. They gave me a quick tutorial on how paper tickets were made back in the 1990’s/early 2000’s. First they showed me an old paper ticket and when I saw it for the first I was completely shocked on what it looked like. It had at least 4 pages and Chris mentioned that sometimes she would have to staple two or more paper tickets together depending on where the client(s) were traveling to. The paper tickets were also small and both my colleagues said that they used to fill them out by hand. But what I was really surprised to hear was that they used to make over 10 of these tickets in a day. That was a lot of work for them. Chris also mentioned that the amount of time it took to create a paper ticket depended on how many were issued in a day. If there were one-way tickets it would take less time and if they were round-trip tickets it would take longer. Once the tickets were made, the travel agents would then get a mail carrier to deliver the tickets which could take 24-72 hours to get to the travelers before they took off for their trips. This also cost a lot of money to deliver the airline tickets as well. But ever since we’ve enter the digital age, tickets have now become easier for our travel agents to create and deliver to our travelers. 

Today, all our travel counselors create airline tickets through the Sabre reservation system. Tickets are now call e-tickets because they’re made electronically instead of by hand. Even delivery tickets to travelers has changed as well. Once a reservation goes through, the traveler can expect to receive their e-ticket receipt via Tripcase and email. In addition, travelers will be able to print their actual e-tickets/boarding passes on the airlines’ websites within 24 before flight departure. Travelers also have the option to receive their e-tickets/boarding passes from the airline on their mobile apps. No matter which method travelers use, all they have to do is show either their mobile smartphone or the boarding pass that they printed online, and then they just either hand over or scan their e-tickets at the gate. That’s it!

Paper tickets in the past were a pain for our travel agents and our clients. Making and then shipping them was just a hassle. Now thanks to the amazing mobile devices and not to mention how email is used frequently now, all airline tickets are virtually done on the computer and are easy to deliver. Not to mention the cost of delivery an airline ticket is now $0. Technology has changed the way we travel today, and those lovely paper tickets that were around for decades have now gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Paul Kacoyanis
Director, Social Media Marketing, EWA Travel

Katlyn Pierre