Monday, June 21, 2010

The Ticket and the Boarding Pass

Others reading this might raise their eyebrows to the high clouds. But believe me, many a Filipino airline passenger confuse the names of these two things. Most of the time these are interchanged. Not that it causes anything untoward, but sometimes it does become a source of misunderstandings.

And this is not between the rich and the poor, nor this is between the educated and the not so educated. Believe me, am writing personal experiences hehehe! Chagrin chagrin chagrin to some friends reading this. Guys, there is nothing to be ashamed about. It is just that we don’t often do the same things in our lives – like some would be frequently flying while others would be diving. And, what do I know about 5-doors or 3-doors or AUVs and SUVs – for me they’re all just vehicles I want to ride on as opposed to sedans. I think that analogy would make everyone be at ease.

To those who think they know everything about these two important things on flying by air, just read on and smile. Or betterstill, read on so that you will easily understand when you are talking to someone who cannot make clear what is a ticket versus a boarding pass!

Story: At some island, a new acquaintance (okay, friend) I was talking to, turns to his wife and says, “hey tomorrow we have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure as we still need to get our tickets”. Alarmed, I reacted, “you should go earlier even 3 or 4 hours ahead as the ticket office is usually full of people at that time”. I was a bit surprised why they did not have their tickets yet. I assumed they were too busy that they’d just grab those on the way to check-in. End of conversation.

After dinner, we thought we’d view some of their pictures taken during a tour. He opened his laptop, picked a piece of paper from the keyboard and placed it aside (in front of me). It looked like a ticket to me so I read it… OMG, it was their ticket for tomorrow’s flight! So, while viewing the pictures, I casually said “by the way, regarding our 4PM flight tomorrow, let us just go together, I’ll be leaving the hotel at 2PM”. The husband answered, “I thought you said 4 hours since we still have to get our tickets”. I raised their ticket and said, what you meant was “to check-in to get your boarding passes, not tickets… and check-in for our flight starts 2PM but people usually arrive there an hour prior to the flight, so we’ll be fine checking in at 230PM”. They agreed. End of conversation.

Next day, at 2:30PM, we were the first three passengers to check-in for our 4PM flight! Imagine if they indeed went to that airport at 4 hours prior to departure (12NN)?! They would have been wandering in an empty building and probably cursing me hehe!


First, the ticket. Talking of a single flight, the ticket ALWAYS precedes the boarding pass. ALWAYS. In fact, you cannot have the latter if you don’t have the former – in whatever form it comes.

More formally known as “airline passenger ticket and baggage check” or just “passenger ticket”, that is what you buy when you want to ride an airplane. Okay? It comes in many kinds these days. Some airline tickets are the good old rectangular thin sheets of glossy paper with red carbon at the back about the width and length of a checkbook. These are commonly bought from travel agencies and even airlines themselves that are not yet fully automated. Some are about the same size but comes in a much thicker material (a cardboard) and without the carbonized backs. Some of these may look like, and in fact can become a boarding pass itself (in other countries, not here)! Mind you, in the recent past, the size and format of that thing was even mandated by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Nowadays though, due to “electronic ticketing”, many tickets come as just sheets of paper (usually 8.5” X 11”) more commonly known as “bond paper” in this country or “letter size paper” to those who live their daily lives with MS Word and MS Excel! While IATA still does have some requirements about electronic tickets, it is not as stiff as before – meaning it does not necessarily have to be an 8.5” X 11” sheet. It can be longer hehe! In fact, in some countries, there can even be none (ah that’s another topic).

Moreover, you will see some passengers carrying “electronic tickets” that are not the size of bond paper. Some are colored and some are not. Some have big fonts and some tiny. What gives? Well, most if not all were printed by the passengers themselves after they bought those tickets on the web. Having said that, I wanted to make it clear that electronic tickets do not have to be printed on a letter size paper. But why are those airlines and travel agencies printing them on letter-size paper? Can’t they save money if they used smaller sizes? Hmm, bakit apektado ka?! He hehe, the answer is no as in a big NO. Why? Because in this country, the most common type of paper used for business or personal communications is your lowly “bond paper”. Thus, most dot-matrix printers, envelopes, paper-containers, shelves, etc cater to that size. So, it would naturally come out more expensive if you want to use smaller paper sizes as you’ll need to purchase many things new instead of using what you already have that you can/may also use for other things else! Aight?!

So, “the ticket” is what you bring to the airport to be able to check-in for your flight.

But please avoid comparing this process to how you watch a concert or a movie or even ride the bus or train since the ticket in those places becomes your final ceremony before getting in. In the airline business, there is another layer of activity (I’ll say for now, fair if you want to call it useless or redundant activity). And that is what they call “flight check-in”. That is where you need your airline ticket. Proof that you have gone through the process of check-in by presenting your ticket is when you are given your boarding pass.

Now the boarding pass. It is that piece of card – now getting to be thinner and more properly called sheet of paper, that is given to you in exchange for (or more recently after you have just shown) your ticket. It usually comes in varied colors and designs according to the airliners whims. Some would even be a different color for each class of service or sector flown (e.g., domestic or international). Oh, do not wonder if you hear some folks say “boarding card”. That is it’s nickname, pseudo-name or alias. Fact is, in early years when everything was still cheap, this thing was always made out of thicker cardboards. That is why they were called “boarding cards”. Who knows, maybe in the future, these can even become boarding chips or just codes or thumb-prints, and may even totally disappear… whatever!

As for now, a boarding pass would usually have a perforated portion or two. That means the thing can be easily torn into two or three smaller pieces. Ah, don’t even think about it! It’s not for you to detach them. Seriously! You will just delay the boarding process later if you tear that thing off its perforations. Why? Because then the ground staff will have to match every piece, if only to make sure that you are a legit passenger.

That would be fine for now, I think.

So, let’s make a quick rundown:
You buy your ticket at a ticket office or via the internet.
You bring ticket to the airport (along with proper identification)
You present ticket to the check-in counter staff
You get a boarding pass from the check-in staff
You bring boarding pass to the departure gate
You fly!

Hmm, reviewing everything above, I am inclined to describe both the ticket and the boarding pass in more detail! But maybe in another blog entry?!

Till then?


AJ said...

So funny! I remember years ago, first time ko gumamit ng E-ticket. Di ako makapaniwala na valid yun. I wanted to go to the ticketing office to get one with the airline logo sa glossy na papel. Haha

Anyway, I must say this is a UNIQUE site. Very interesting. I'll be sure to drop in regularly! :)

Pinoy Traveler said...

Thanks, sir!

ramlakhan said...

Informative blog about varoius airlines and their services,if you are looking for cheap london delhi flights then we have a solution for it.

sachin bani said...

really nice one thanks sir:)
Cheap Flights to Dubai
Dubai Flights

Philipss said...

Nice blog!
Airlines Tickets Philippines

Anonymous said...

Hi Sir. Can I ask what are the parts of this Electronic Airline Ticket? Thank you so much for answering, that would be a big help on my homework.

Neeraj Singh said...

The blog is really written to the point. I like your writting stytle. Keep posting...

Computer Repair Services
PC Repair Services in Gurgaon