Glossary

What is an E-Ticket for a Flight?

The term “e-ticket” isn’t as commonly heard as it used to be, but it pays to understand it just in case.
Way back when, before the internet, airline passengers would receive paper tickets for flights. Later, instead of printing an actual paper ticket, airlines would instead create an “e-ticket,” short for “electronic ticket.” An e-ticket contains all the same information the good old-fashioned paper tickets had on them, only with no actual paper.
Today, passengers may get e-ticket information via email after booking a flight online, but an e-ticket is principally for the airlines to keep track of the fact that you are a ticketed passenger on a specific flight.


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Is an e-ticket the same thing as a boarding pass?

No. A boarding pass is a document (either paper or electronic) that shows a gate agent that you’re allowed to board a plane for a particular flight. An e-ticket has a bunch of information that the gate agent doesn’t need—including what you paid for the ticket and where you bought it.

Is an e-ticket also my itinerary?

No. A flight itinerary has all the details you need to know about the flights on your trip—departure city and time, flight numbers, arrival city and times, etc.—while an e-ticket may only have some of that information.

Do I need to print my e-ticket?

No, not for travel purposes. If you need payment information for reimbursement or tax purposes, that’s another matter.

Can I travel without a hard copy of an e-ticket?

Yes! The only thing you’ll need to check into your flight online is the confirmation code you got when you booked it, which doesn’t usually appear on your e-ticket. And if you’re checking in at the airport, the ticket agent will use your ID to find your ticket information in their computer system. 

Once you’re checked in, you’ll get a boarding pass; you need a boarding pass (either on paper or electronically on your phone) to board the plane.

Last Updated 
September 16, 2019