With the surge of the Internet and people always in a rush, e-tickets are rapidly overtaking the number of paper tickets purchased from airlines. Not only are e-tickets easy and convenient to buy, they also can save you time and money.
What is an E-Ticket?
An e-ticket is an electronic airline ticket that is issued to the purchaser over the Internet. Usually an e-ticket is obtained by email after you pay for the flight in full. It contains all of the information you need: a confirmation number that says you have paid for your flight, departure and arrival times, flight numbers and check-in gate.
How to Get an E-Ticket
You can purchase an e-ticket at almost any online travel agency or travel-affiliated website. For example, if you purchase your plane ticket at Expedia.com or Travelocity.com you will be issued an email with your e-ticket information. This is not the actual ticket but serves as a receipt and contains all the necessary information you need when it comes time to check in at the airport. Some travel websites allow the option of having a paper ticket mailed to you, but many feel that it is more convenient to simply print out the e-ticket and exchange it at the airport before departure.
E-ticket vs. Paper Ticket
There is one primary difference between a regular paper airplane ticket and an e-ticket that has been purchased online: Where the information is stored. When you purchase a regular ticket, all the information is located on the actual piece of paper that you will hand the boarding flight attendant. An e-ticket, on the other hand, has all of the information stored in the airline's database. That means you must get the actual ticket when you arrive at the airport and check in.
How to Use an E-Ticket
Once you have paid for your ticket online, open the email that has your e-ticket information. Print the e-ticket, and check to make sure there is a confirmation number. The day of your departure, bring the e-ticket with you as well as the credit or debit card used to pay for the ticket and a receipt just to be safe. For domestic and international flights, you should bring the e-ticket to the check-in counter, where your boarding pass will be issued. Make sure to bring all the appropriate documents with you, including passports, visas and identification.
Some airports allow you to trade in your e-ticket for your boarding pass at a computer kiosk. You will need all of the same documents, including the e-ticket confirmation number. Some kiosks allow you to choose your own seating arrangements, so try to arrive early if you prefer a window or aisle seat or if you want to sit with someone in particular or with a group.