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Paper Ticket vs. Electronic Ticket or E-ticket

E-ticket or Electronic Ticket

E-ticket is an electronic form of a paper ticket. After a flight reservation is made, an agent issues an electronic equivalent of the traditional paper ticket. Usually, a passenger receives a booking confirmation number or record locator (more information in ticket description section)  and itinerary showing the flight(s) details and/or e-ticket passenger receipt.

Benefits of an E-ticket:

  • CANNOT lose or misplace a ticket
  • No paper ticket issued
  • Can check-in online on the airline’s website or electronic kiosks at the airport; on some occasions you can even check your bags online
  • Can be purchased at the last minute online 24/7
  • No need to wait for a ticket to be mailed
  • No need to reissue a paper ticket if you need to change or refund it
  • Email confirmation is all you need to travel

Disadvantages of an E-ticket:

  • Usually there is very limited information on the E-ticket coupon. So in case of the reservation system malfunction, there might be complications if a passenger needs to change an electronic ticket.
  • There might be some challenges to reissue an electronic ticket if a passenger needs to be transferred to another airline especially when flight cancellations occur due to non-weather related reasons. Airlines may use different procedures, reservation systems, and networks, and they are not always compatible.

Paper Tickets

A paper ticket is a traditional ticket that has a paper coupon for each travel segment, and this form is still used in the travel industry. You will almost always get a paper ticket for an infant (a child under 2 years old) if she/he travels with no seat. After booking a flight, an agent issues a hard copy of the flight reservation and a passenger receives a ticket consisting of paper coupons for each flight segment plus a passenger receipt

If your agent issues a paper ticket, make sure you save the passenger receipt (the last coupon) for your records throughout the travel.

Advantages of a paper ticket:

  • Most of your travel information is recorded on the ticket. This is very helpful if the airline reservation system is down or if the flight is canceled due to some mechanical (usually non-weather related) reasons. Other airlines are able to “read” the original flight information from your paper ticket coupons.
  • Paper ticket are very useful when traveling internationally as some countries require the proof of return travel, and a paper ticket contains such information.

Note, always make sure that the agent takes the correct travel coupon from your ticket. You might have some issues on the next leg of the trip if an agent accidentally takes the wrong one. This does not happen often, but I suggest double checking than going through unnecessary trouble.

Disadvantages of a paper ticket:

  • In case of reissue (if a passenger lost a ticket), there can be a fee and in some cases a passenger may be asked to buy a new ticket.
  • If a passenger needs to change the ticket, he or she will be required to present an old ticket to the agent. Usually, the change or refund is not possible without the original ticket.
  • Some airlines charge for a paper ticket
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