Remember when you used to be able to hold your ticket in your hand? Those days are now officially over, well, mostly. On June 1, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) officially retired the paper ticket from use worldwide. This is an impressive achievement that should help reduce costs, save paper, and simplify processes, but they aren't really disappearing completely.
See, airlines can still issue paper tickets on their own if necessary. Why would they do that? Well, if there is an exceptionally large and complex ticket (around the world, for example), you might need a paper ticket. And if an airline needs to reaccommodate passengers on another airline, it may not have the ability to interline an electronic ticket to every carrier. IATA's e-Ticket Project Director Bryan Wilson tells me that there are currently 4,000 interline e-ticket agreements in place, and that should cover about 90% of interline travel. So, as you can see, this truly will be a small number. That's a good thing.
It's estimated that processing a paper ticket costs $10 whereas an electronic ticket costs about $1. Though most US airlines have issued a very low volume of paper tickets over the last few years, every little bit helps. This will also be helpful in simplifying training and procedures. And yes, it will help make an airline more "green" by saving paper, as JetBlue touted recently.
So, say goodbye to paper tickets. Will anyone outside of memorabilia collectors really miss them?