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How Exactly Do Paper Tickets Work?  
User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6
Posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3685 times:

I have never completely understood the point of paper tickets. Ever since I have started actually paying attention when flying, I have always had an e-ticket, so I have never known otherwise.

Exactly what is the point of having a paper coupon for your ticket? The reservation is still in the computer like an e-ticket, so what is the reason for needing the coupon? Also, why are you able to go to (almost) any airline with a paper ticket and use that coupon towards that airline's flight? Didn't you pay your money towards the airline it is ticketed for? If so, wouldn't the airline accepting the coupon be giving you travel essentially for free?

I know these questions may sound utterly ridiculous to some of you out there, and I apologize in advance, but I would really like to know how it works. I would appreciate knowing anything else you can tell me that I might not have mentioned.

Thanks a lot!  Big grin

16 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineRareBear From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 553 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3656 times:

When you purchased your ticket, you received a booklet of flight coupons, one for each flight segment, plus one additional listing all segments. Typically you received this at the ticket counter, from your travel agent or in the mail after you paid for the tickets.

When you checked in at the ticket counter for your first segment, you got a boarding pass for that segment, or possibly all segments to your destination.
At the gate, you surrendered the coupon for that segment, along with a part of your boarding pass.

At the end of your trip, you had left the coupon showing all of the segments flown. If you were on a business trip, this coupon typically had to be turned in with your travel claim for reimbursement.

Hope this sufficiently answers your question.



Illegitimus non carborundum
User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3646 times:

Thanks for your attempt, but that's not really what I was asking. I understand how it works - you get the coupons, check-in, surrender the coupon, etc. I'd like to know why they have them if you're still in the computer with a reservation and how it works with transferring them between airlines, etc.

User currently offlinePA110 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1979 posts, RR: 24
Reply 3, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3628 times:
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No apologies needed. E-tickets are the evolution of technology. Originally, airline computers handled only transactions related to making and storing reservations. A paper ticket was proof that payment was actually made for the fare. The coupons each represented actual money. Before the paper ticket made it into the hands of a passenger an auditor's coupon would be pulled from the ticket and sent to accounting. This would be eventually matched against the flight coupons retrieved from each time the passenger checked in for a flight. Remember, in the early days (before you were born) many airlines still did not have automated check-in. The ticket and flight coupons proved that the passenger had paid for a fare. The real money was in those actual flight coupons. If a passenger wanted to cancel and obtain a refund, the coupons would have to be returned to the airline. (This is the stripped-down explanation).

Eventually airline computer technology progressed to the point where not only checkin was automated, but all the fare and flight segment data could be compiled and matched against the automated check-in records. Hence e-tickets. No need to have paper coupons.

The reason why there are still paper coupons is that most airlines still have proprietary computer systems, and not every airline has programs that share and transmit fare and flight segment data between the various airline systems. In these cases (and a few others), a paper ticket is required to track the revenue due to each participating carrier, and for the accounting departments to distribute the ticket's value to those airlines.

Like I said this is the stripped down explanation, but I hope it helps.

[Edited 2004-02-25 22:05:57]


It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
User currently offlineSQ25J From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 308 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3603 times:

Quite Simple-A Reservation and a Ticket are 2 totally different things,

I have had hundreds of people argue this point with me

Today is somewhat different due to the fact ID's are checked several times during travel, before this was in effect anyone could use anyone elses tickets.

For example in the 1990's there were hundreds of non-ref tickets in classified sections for sale-travel specific dates, male or female, etc.

The airline industry is slow in policy changes-sure they could approach people with lost tickets differntly today because of the mandatory ID issue, but I think they will hold on to an outdated policy as to make extra revenue from processing lost ticket requests. I am aware most airlines charge $100 for this.


User currently offlineLeezyjet From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 4041 posts, RR: 54
Reply 5, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3587 times:

As airlines do not have access to each others reservations systems then they needed a way of having an accountable document that showed you had paid to travel which they don't have with E-tickets hence the need for paper tickets.

If you buy a ticket with one airline and use it to travel on another or even when purhcasing multi destination tickets on differant airlines, then you pay the money to one company i.e. airline or travel agency, and when you fly you present the coupon to the airline concerned.

The airline then sends the coupons for each flight off to their revenue accounts department where the coupons are sorted into 'own airline' and 'other airlines' then stored onto microfishe.

The 'other airlines' coupons are then sent off to a clearing centre where they all get sorted out and the clearing centre basically works out how much each airline/travel agency etc has to pay each other for all the flights. As you can imagine this is a mammoth task and from what I understand the airlines are actually about 3 years behind with actually collecting the revenue from those tickets.

The revenue from tickets purchased directly from the same airline stays with that airline so that is why they can give you an e-ticket as it doesn't need to go off to clearing as they already have your payment.

Thats why it is always so important that the airline has the coupon before you travel as it works like a cheque in that the airline cannot collect the revenue on that ticket without presenting the coupon first. So look after those flight coupons !!!.

We regularly have to make people buy new tickets when they have lost their flight coupons after they have checked in or if we didn't then they would be in effect flying for free from the airlines point of view, even though they had bought a ticket from somewhere - the airline can't get the money without it.

Hope that made sense - maybe someone can elaborate more or explain it better.

 Smile



"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6
Reply 6, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3573 times:

So would WN accept another airline's tickets if you ask them to endorse it? I know that no other airline will accept WN tickets, but I wouldn't be surprised if WN does a one-way operation.

User currently offlineLeezyjet From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 4041 posts, RR: 54
Reply 7, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 3555 times:

I don't know who 'WN' are, but if they are a low cost operator then I'd imagine no.

This is how low cost airlines keep costs low by only sellling their own tickets so they get all the revenue straight away themselves without having to wait for years whilst it gets cleared.

They reduce their costs even further buy not issuing paper tickets so that they don't have to have the extra manpower required to process those paper tickets at their head office and buy not having to buy in the tickets in the first place.

 Smile



"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
User currently offlineSQ25J From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 308 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3509 times:

No-Southwest does not "interline" with anyone, therfore their tix are worthless to other carriers and vice-versa. Most airlines do interline and each has ticket stock with a 3 digit code. They can sell tickets on other airlines with their stock, after a ticket gets used it goes to a clearinghouse and the issuing carrier is debited the amount minus commision and the operating carrier would get the proceeds. That is why Southwest and other LCC's do not interline as it costs money to go through a clearinghouse and to pay associated fees and commissions.

One example of how these costs were dealt with right before etix started to take off was Delta outsourced all their ticket processing to Juarez, Mexico. So everynight DL stations would send all paper tickets in a company mail bag to ELP, (El Paso, TX), where they would get surfaced across the border and processsed.


User currently offlineCory6188 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2686 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3487 times:

Well actually, until recently, WN only issued paper tickets for Rapid Rewards tickets, so apparently they have some staff for handling them.

User currently offlineLeezyjet From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 4041 posts, RR: 54
Reply 10, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3453 times:

Ok, but they don't need as much manpower to process those tickets like the major airlines do as they are using less of them.

 Smile



"She Rolls, 45 knots, 90, 135, nose comes up to 20 degrees, she's airborne - She flies, Concorde Flies"
User currently offlineMikephotos From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 2923 posts, RR: 54
Reply 11, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3426 times:

Wow, doesn't this make some of us feel really old  Smile

I remember the days of booking reservations at Florida Express and having to manually calculate fares from printed fare sheets since the CRS didn't have auto-pricing. Oh, and lets not get into hand-writing tickets...oh those were the days.

I miss those simple days of paper tickets and no id required...some of you will know what i mean  Big grin


Michael


User currently offlinePA110 From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1979 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3417 times:
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I remember those days as well. But, pull the wrong coupon at checkin, and you caught hell!!!


It's been swell, but the swelling has gone down.
User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3403 times:

Oh, and lets not get into hand-writing tickets...oh those were the days.

Sometimes I saw handwritten tickets when I worked in the revenue accounting department of Eurowings, airlines like Air Algerie or Royal Nepal Airlines still issued them in 2003.

Patrick


User currently offlineSearpqx From Netherlands, joined Jun 2000, 4343 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3403 times:

I'm with you Michael - my first job in the industry was at a travel agency, collating fare updates from ATPCO into the metal racks that held all the fares, for all the airlines. Those were the days that meant as a senior agent, you got the newest copy of the OAG and sat nearest to the fare racks.

Rgds,
Duane



"The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity"
User currently offlineMikephotos From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 2923 posts, RR: 54
Reply 15, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 3386 times:

I remember those days as well. But, pull the wrong coupon at checkin, and you caught hell!!!

What a nightmare that was, those days I don't want to remember.

Michael


User currently offlineORDagent From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 823 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (10 years 1 month 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 3326 times:

As a travel agent AND former airline employee I can give you an answer. First even though the CRS systems (Apollo,Sabre etc.) have been holding electronic reservations for 30+ years the technology of keeping a database of fares/checkin/ticketing status was simply to complex! When a ticket is issued it is validated on an airlines ticket stock. You can tell which airline issued the ticket by looking at the first three numbers ie: 001 for AA etc. The validating carrier collects the funds from the traveler and disperses the now extinct commistion to the agent. If there are multiple carriers on an itinerary, which etickets still can't handle universally, the validating airline gets the funds and then disperses them to the other carriers via ARC. ARC is the Airline Reporting Corporation. All the tickets in the U.S. and through similar companies in other contries are issued on ARC documents and ARC is responsible for shuffling the money between agencies, passangers and airlines. Complicated isn't it? ARC is responsible for licensing agencies which allows them to issue most airlines tickets with the exception of Southwest and other low fare carriers that bypass ARC. An agency may as well shut its doors if they fall afoul of ARC. They can basically put you out of business if you commit fraud by volition or simple stupidity.
When an airline lifts a paper ticket it goes through the carriers internal accounting department and is sent of to ARC so the carrier can be paid. That paper ticket is cash. When I worked at AA in the early '90s as the gate agent was responsible for lifting the tickets. I had to ensure the passanger count matched my ticket lift and that all the documents were ligit. AA offered a substancial bonus if you found a counterfit document! The lifted tickets were sent to Bridgetown Barbados to be sorted accounted and sent to ARC.

As you can see this process is complicated and very expensive per transaction for the airline. I think I read that it cost about $30.00 to account a paper ticket while an E-ticket costs about $16.00.

Until very recently the computing power for this complicated process didn't exist and is still not mature enough to handle multi carrier international tickets, however this is rapidly changing.

That in a longwinded nutshell is the history of paper tickets.


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