Top 3 reasons to still print your tickets and travel itineraries

by Anshul
a close up of a receipt

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It’s easy to assume that smartphones and trip management apps have rendered the need to print airline tickets and itineraries obsolete. However, specific situations demand hard copies of travel itinerary and bookings. Below are the top 3 reasons to still print your tickets and travel itineraries.

To enter airports – Security checks

Indian airports (and several other countries), for example, have military guards at entrance that check passenger reservations against airline manifest before allowing access to the airport. As I learnt the hard way, they do not accept offline versions of trip management apps and need to see a copy of the e-tkt. The rule is strict and several passengers are caught off guard each day. So much so that airlines now charge a fee to print a copy of existing reservations.

I am a ‘Tripit‘ kind of person and enjoy being tech savvy in general. However, depending on the country I am traveling in, a hard copy of my travel plans is the only way around.

Reliability of Electronics (or lack thereof)

There is nothing worse than getting to the airport to find out that your phone is out of battery or has shut down on you. Reliability of electronic devices, data roaming, and patchy wifi are the most understated travel nuisance.  Especially on hectic trips where its easy to forget “the basics”, or you are having a bad day, electronics have a way of catching you off guard.

In the most unfortunate circumstances of stolen devices/belongings, there is little downside to carrying a paper copy, its the best backup plan.

Immigration – Proof of travel and Visa on Arrival

Several countries require a hard copy of travel plans as part of visa-on-arrival process. Many would simply not accept an electronic version. My first time in Rwanda, I ended up pulling out my phone to present my travel plans. The immigration officer reluctantly took my phone and then walked into the office to “verify details”. I spent the longest 15 minutes evaluating things that could go wrong. They didn’t, but a hard copy of my travel plans would have saved me a lot of angst.

Or the time when Accra airport suffered a blackout and passengers with print-outs of their tickets were processed and given manual boarding passes first. Those with bookings saved on their phones faced a longer wait.

 Take Away

No matter how tech savvy we get, there is always place for printing out travel plans and keeping a copy as backup. Airlines may not print carbon copy tickets anymore but depending on the country of your travel, a paper copy can save you time, money and a lot of angst.

Who remembers the days of carbon copy tickets?! Drop a line below 🙂



Featured Image Source: Henkybaby via Flyertalk







Chris Nordstrom February 7, 2018 - 11:03 am

So what exactly do you print out on paper? And why is the paper version any more reliable that an electronic version in, say email, on your phone?

Anshul February 7, 2018 - 11:37 am

On extensive work trips where I am hopping several countries, I keep a doc file with the entire itinerary with related details (flights/hotels/meetings confirmation numbers etc.). Tripit (trip management app) also allows you to print a copy of the entire trip to keep paper copy backup.
I have the same in email/google drive too but electronics have a way of catching you off-guard – run out of battery, freeze, no wifi, data roaming coverage etc. Paper copy is a great backup in such scenarios.

bluenoser February 7, 2018 - 9:33 am

Curious, with no power, did flights not halt?

Regardless, I have both because while juggling my carryons, coat, whatever, my phone invariably decides to shut off just as I go to hand it to Security or the boarding agent (generally both) and then I have to either step aside or piss off those behind me in line. I am an anxious enough traveler that I hate having to do either. So I have my print out….and use it to mark my place in my old-fashioned book so it’s handy.

Anshul February 7, 2018 - 11:29 am

I am not an anxious traveler but my phone freezing up just as I approach the gate agent has ruffled me in the past. And not to mentioned opened up my sweat glands! Hate it.
About the outage in Accra, I dont know what the extent of the outage was but the departure terminal was a complete blackout for a few seconds, then on emergency lights and generators for the next 25 minutes or so..while the airlines handed out manual boarding passes with handwritten baggage tags. And amazingly, my bags made it back to Canada with me!

The Short Final February 6, 2018 - 7:02 am

I’ve had momentary mental breakdowns when my phone freezes in line to board.

Anshul February 6, 2018 - 2:46 pm embarrassing..and the glares from others behind. Tech is our best and worst enemy 🙂

Fast Airplane Wifi Coming Soon, Why You Should Print Your Tickets, Best Domestic Airports - BaldThoughts February 6, 2018 - 6:50 am

[…] Top 3 reasons to still print your tickets and travel itineraries. – Charlie totally gives me a hard time about this, calling me “Grandpa,” but I never have to worry about battery life on my phone or a bad signal interfering with me going through security or boarding a plane. […]

Lee Huffman February 6, 2018 - 6:39 am

Charlie totally gives me a hard time about this, calling me “Grandpa,” but I never have to worry about battery life on my phone or a bad signal interfering with me going through security or boarding a plane.

Anshul February 6, 2018 - 7:00 am

Haha, Grandpa knows his game! 😉

Susan Easterly April 26, 2018 - 1:18 am

I am old school, too. I totally agree with printing out the itineraries for the aforementioned reasons. Anyone who has traveled to less connected destinations would understand this. Plus, what happens when you drop your phone and it breaks?! Yikes. I would rather have a paper backup for now. I LOVED (past tense) Tripefy because you could have the best of both worlds, but now they have done away with the pdf in the free version. Very annoying!

Xtopher February 5, 2018 - 10:49 pm

Not to mention after the fact–in case miles haven’t posted, esp. with a faraway partner in your airline alliance. On more than one occasion i was requested to mail in (or fax! Both are so 1980s) the boarding pass as verification of travel.

Anshul February 6, 2018 - 7:02 am

Great point! Hard copy of boarding passes is a must for many airlines to transfer missing miles. Even claims with airlines or insurance companies require a copy of the boarding pass as proof of travel.


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