The world's leading airlines have agreed to stop issuing paper tickets from Jan 1 2008. From then on, the e-ticket will be the norm.
"It spares passengers a lot of hassle at the airport,'' one airline executive said yesterday.
The e-ticket is no more than a reference number which, when used in tandem with a credit card or passport, enables a machine to issue a boarding pass.
The system is already in common use at airports as airlines look to slash costs. According to one industry estimate, each conventional ticket costs the industry pounds 4.82.
But it is not only the cost of tickets which has triggered the move towards e-ticketing.
Issuing a boarding pass at a check-in desk is time consuming.
Airports would rather passengers passed their time in the duty-free shops spending money.
With the system becoming compulsory across the industry after Dec 31 next year, every passenger's itinerary will be stored electronically.
A change in travel plans will not entail a series of trips to travel agents and ticketing desks; instead the information will be updated via the internet.
The industry believes this flexibility will appeal in particular to business travellers who, while accounting for only six per cent of air passengers, take 80 per cent of journeys.
The airlines set out their plans for a paperless future at a meeting in Paris yesterday. There was concern among some, especially in Africa and South America, that the system could be open to fraud.
The first plane ticket is believed to date back to 1914, though what Tony Jannus received when he flew from St Petersburg to Tampa in Florida in a seaplane is not clear.
The first tickets were handwritten notes, which by the 1960s had become a booklet with each leg of a trip ticketed by a flimsy coupon.
In the late 1970s use of computers led to the dot matrix printing of tickets and in the 1990s airlines started using a cardboard ticket with a magnetic strip which contains relevant passenger information.
Copyright: The Daily Telegraph, -- 6/8/06
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