Airlines issue travelers electronic tickets (e-tickets) when they make flight reservations via the Internet or over the phone. An e-ticket contains the same pertinent information, such as flight number, itinerary and reservation code, as paper tickets. Even though airlines have been using e-tickets for a while now, there is still some confusion about whether you need e-tickets or paper tickets for a flight.
According to the International Air Transport Association, 93 percent of the airlines worldwide have already begun phasing out the use of paper tickets. After the complete phase-out, the only paper tickets issued for travel will be by regional airlines in developing countries. While paper tickets are still in use, airlines have a deadline by which you must complete your travel by if you want to use your paper ticket. Check with the airline for their exact deadline date. If a paper ticket is all you have, you have to use that for the duration of your trip.
Using a Paper Ticket
You must have your identification, and passport if applicable, with you and your paper ticket when checking in for your flight at the airport. At this time, the customer service representative issues you a boarding pass, which you must keep with your paper ticket in order to go through security and on to your boarding gate. Be sure to protect your paper ticket, because if you lose it, you will have to buy an entirely new one to replace it.
When you or your travel agent makes a flight reservation electronically, you don't get a paper ticket. All of you information is stored electronically. After the reservation is complete, you get a confirmation sheet containing all the information you and the airline need for your trip. Since the airlines store all of your flight information electronically, there is no risk of losing your e-ticket.
Using an E-Ticket
When using an e-ticket, it's a good idea to print out the confirmation sheet for your own records and carry it with you during your trip to keep track of your itinerary. If you lose your printout, simply ask the customer service representative for a itinerary for you when you check in.
In most cases, airlines do not require that you present your e-ticket receipt when checking in, only identification. In some instances, airlines may also ask you for the credit or debit card the e-ticket was charged on for security purposes.
After checking you in for flight, the customer service representative issues you a boarding pass that denotes you have an e-ticket. The boarding pass is what you use to go through security and on to your flight gate throughout your trip.