On this week's episode of "Airline" [USA], one story involved a woman who showed up at the gate with a boarding pass, but not the actual ticket. She had a reprinted boarding pass that the gate agent had issued, but on attempting to board, the gate supervisor told her that unless she could present the ticket/coupon portion, she would have to pay for another ticket. This resulted in two trips back to the Security point to look for the missing ticket portion.
I fly a lot and think I understand the paperwork but what I don't understand in this situation is: if she has a boarding pass, the boarding pass is linked to the reservation record, the reservation record shows she's paid, why does the gate need a piece of paper to see that she's paid? Couldn't they just go into the record and pull up the record of payment? Obviously there are some accounting concerns here I don't know of.
Is this unique to Southwest or do all airline ticketing systems operate similarly?