View Full Version : When you take a plane somewhere...

Becca C.
03-28-2011, 05:32 AM
...do you get your ticket/boarding pass/whatever in the mail? How much in advance of the trip? I've only taken a plane once and was not in charge of my own ticket. If someone a fair distance away was paying for you to fly, would they overnight/Fedex/ship your ticket to you if it was a rush trip?

03-28-2011, 05:45 AM
Most people I know these days use electronic boarding passes or print them out at kiosks in the airport itself (ticket sent to email, boarding pass either loaded onto handheld communications device or printed out at the airport manually).

This is for the US and Canada. I don't know how people handle it elsewhere.

03-28-2011, 05:46 AM
I do everything online, so I buy my tickets either through a site like Travelocity or directly from the airline. Then I print out my boarding pass right at home. You can also get your boarding passes when you check in at the airport (and check your luggage).

03-28-2011, 05:50 AM
1) You buy a ticket. You can buy it at the airport, online, or from a travel agency. The time span for which you can buy a ticket ahead of time is anywhere between 3 hours to 3 months. You either get the ticket immediately or you get it through the agency / mail. (see below)

2) Getting a boarding pass. You can have those online (local flights, US mostly) but more than often you have to get to the boarding counter with your bags. There you get your bags checked in and you get your boarding pass. Some airports have self-check-in terminals for selected local airlines where you do the check-in yourself and get your boarding pass, then you drop your bags at a counter.

> How much in advance of the trip?

Anywhere between 3 hours and 3 months. Most airlines don't maintain schedules more than 3 months ahead of time. Less than 3 hours will depend on the flight, airline and destination. You can't get a boarding pass less than 20 - 30 minutes before flight time, due to the time it takes to get your luggage into the plane and get through airport security.

> If someone a fair distance away was paying for you to fly, would
> the overnight/Fedex/ship your ticket to you if it was a rush trip?

Most airlines / countries have online bookings. So an email or a fax with the booking info would do. I know that for going to South Korea, you need the full ticket voucher to get a boarding pass; and those take a few days to get printed and delivered.


Kitty Pryde
03-28-2011, 05:54 AM
Here in the US, you just have a confirmation number in an email. When you check in, you give the desk agent your passport or ID and they print your boarding pass (or passes if you have connecting flights). Or some airlines you stick your passport in a machine and it reads it and knows who you are. For the US you have to make sure the ticket is made out to exactly the same name that's on your ID (there's a law I think). Like if you have a ticket for John Smith, but your ID says John Jacob Smith, they can give you a major hassle over it.

January 2010 I flew to Germany and we had regular tickets printed and mailed to us. It was hard to get them sent--mailed paper tickets are like an endangered species!

03-28-2011, 06:17 AM
Last few flights I've booked (one Edinburgh to Prague, one Glasgow to Vancouver and one Glasgow to the Isle of Man), two of them have been through travel agents, so the tickets get sent there, and I've had to pick them up from the office. The Isle of Man flight was booked through a website so I have an email ticket, which I need to print out if I'm going to check in at the airport desk. Otherwise I can check in online from home and print my own boarding pass, then drop off my hold baggage at a baggage drop at the airport. I've also used the machines at the airport before, where you scan in your passport (and sometimes they ask for a credit card that was used to buy the ticket too, though not always).

Weirdly, on the Prague flight, we went with Jet2.com and they issue out tickets that say they're boarding passes, but actually aren't. You have to swap them for actual boarding passes at the airport. Not quite figured that one out yet but we'd never used that airline before.

Becca C.
03-28-2011, 06:49 AM
I wish I could travel so I could know these things myself xD Thanks everybody, I think I've got it figured out now.

Linda Adams
03-28-2011, 02:14 PM
In the US, it's an electronic ticket. You get an email notifying you that you've been ticketed, probably about a week or less out. Then you go to a site where you can print an eTicket, which lists all the flight numbers, airports, and departure times for your trip. Not sure if this is true for all the eTicking sites, but the information is only saved for about two weeks after the flight ends.

Then you go to the airport. When you check in your baggage, some of the airlines allow you to pay your baggage fees via a kiosk (still have to stand in long lines to check the bags in, but it's a little time saving), The baggage counter prints the boarding pass, and often that's all you have to do other than getting through security.

Some sites that may be worth looking at:

Flyertalk: http://www.flyertalk.com/

TSA Blog: http://blog.tsa.gov/ (if you want travel horror stories, just read the comments)

USA Today Travel: http://travel.usatoday.com/index

03-28-2011, 03:11 PM
One important thing often overlooked - despite the fact that our return flight from Dakar to Madrid to Amsterdam was 'confirmed', we had to call Iberia Airlines 72 hours before departing from Dakar to re-confirm our flight.

Sounds ridiculous? Yes, but it happens a lot, especially at shifty airports like Dakar, where a multitude of things can go wrong. I traveled to Ireland and back and never had to re-confirm anything.

So keep this in mind, if your MC flies to some 'uncertain' location...

03-28-2011, 05:47 PM
I flew London Heathrow to Los Angeles in December. We were sent our e-ticket via email when we booked the tickets (which is next to useless). At the airport, we pressed our passport photo pages face down on an automatic screen, which identifies you and checks you in. Then, it prints your real ticket that you take to bag drop.

Los Angeles to London Heathrow didn't have automatic check-in. It's done at bag drop.

03-29-2011, 09:09 AM
Everyone's answers seem to vary. I fly 4-6 round flights a year to various parts of Canada. We book on line. In most airports you need a photo ID at the check in counter. I never remember my confirmation number and they never give me a hard time for it. In some airports St. John's Newfoundland / Fort St.John British Columbia
(maybe it's the St.John thing) They'll only ask your name at the check in counter.

In either case you need the boarding pass for the security gate - they do their metal detector thing and an assortment of 'random' screenings'.
You need your boarding pass and photo ID - (has to be a passport/ drivers license / government issue ID card) when they load the plane..

Fun tip : You cannot use a Ontario health card as official ID because it's too highly counterfeited (I've had friends in pubs rejected on health cards)

Random screenings have become more interesting lately. Last flight they had me put my hands in my pockets then rubbed my hands with a mini-shammy on a stick to do some kind of CSI blue light experiment. Then there's the bag checks / pat downs / super x-ray technology...

I often take the Toronto - Halifax - St. John's flight - when the plane lands in Halifax a fight attendant will again ask to see everyone's boarding passes after they disembark passengers , before they take on new ones.

Booking times seem to vary too. I've bought round trip tickets with August as the arrival and December as return purchased at the end of June. So a December return makes that 7 months in advance. I think it varies by airline and destination. The flight times between St.John's and Toronto have been practically identical for 6 years- and way too expensive :P

Best bet is to look up the fights your interested in and the airport websites. An Airport like Fort St. John (Essentially a shanty at the end of a strip of asphalt) Has different procedures then Pearson international (Three terminals and a gazillion flights from all over the world a day.)

03-29-2011, 12:38 PM
My latest trips I've booked on-line, then simply shown up at the airport before my flight, swiped my passport in a machine and have gotten the boarding pass then and there. No ticket required and nothing needs to be sent to anyone.

Ms Hollands
03-29-2011, 03:08 PM
I think the last time I had a physical ticket sent to me was back in 2000. The rest have all been e-tickets. Some involve printing out a page and the airline swapping it for the boarding pass, plus a traditional-style ticket for any other legs of the journey. Others, such as budget airline Easyjet, just require your booking number and you check yourself and your baggage in, get your boarding pass, then go via the desk to drop your baggage off on the way through, where they ask you the usual questions about whether you packed your own bags etc.

03-30-2011, 08:05 AM
What other people have said.

Also - you can buy tickets way in advance, if you want. Back in 2009, I went overseas for 6 months and bought the return ticket at the same time as my flight out - so maybe 9 months in advance of the flight? Customs actually required me to prove I had a return ticket when I entered the country.

04-09-2011, 07:29 AM
I always get my "ticket" when I pay for it, and it's been by e-mail for at least the last ten years.

In the US, with the major airlines, one can "check in" up to 24 hours before the flight. I always get a reminder e-mail "it's time to check in." Once you check in online, you can print your boarding pass.

If you're not checking bags, this allows you to bypass the baggage check and go straight to security. You can check in early and indicate that you're going to be checking bags, which doesn't save any time as far as I can tell, but it does confirm that you intend to be on the plane, in case it's overbooked and they bump people, or if another flight was cancelled and your seat is in danger of being given to a standby.

04-09-2011, 02:04 PM
While not having much to do with the original question, this is a funny take on the extra charges, which airlines seem to pile on these days.


Warning: contains strong language!

04-16-2011, 08:15 PM
I just had paper tickets issued to me last month--complete with a $25 deliver fee!--for my current trip, which involved a flight from Boston, via Fort Lauderdale, to Guatemala City with a further connecting flight to Flores, Guatemala. I booked online (Priceline), and can only guess that the paper tickets, although they covered all legs of the trip, were required by the Guatemalan domestic flight, though that is just a guess. A friend of mine does this sort of thing frequently and hasn't been issued paper tickets.

Until then, I hadn't seen a paper ticket since about 1999!