Ticket (aviation)

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Ticket , also known as flight ticket or flight ticket , is issued in air traffic as a transport document (see ticket ) and, in addition to the document function, serves to check whether the airline passenger identified on the ticket has a valid claim to the transport specified therein ( air trip , sightseeing flight) in one Owns commercial aircraft . Upon receipt of the boarding pass for boarding the aircraft for the flight booked , the flight ticket loses its relevance as proof of the right to travel.

Tickets are issued by different institutions: either by a travel agency (usually on behalf of the International Air Transport Association - IATA) or directly by the airline concerned . Not all tickets have to be paid for. B. Free flights for employees of your own airline or award tickets based on miles accumulated from frequent flyer programs .


A flight ticket consists of one or more flight coupons and several documents: the audit coupon that the airline receives for its bookkeeping, the agent coupon that the issuing office keeps and the passenger receipt that is given to the traveler together with the flight coupon and on Remaining with the passenger is determined.

Each flight coupon is issued for exactly one flight route (flight segment). Example: a ticket for flights from Munich to Honolulu on the routes Munich – Frankfurt, Frankfurt – Los Angeles, Los Angeles – Honolulu are thus three tickets (flight segments).

In principle, tickets are only available before departure and no longer during a flight. A ticket is exchanged for a boarding pass (boarding card) at the check-in counter. The retained ticket will be sent to the airline for settlement.

Until the introduction of electronic tickets in 1994, tickets were issued on paper. Today, paper tickets are only issued in rare exceptional cases, including power or system failures, and trips that span more than the 16 segments supported by electronic tickets.

Paper ticket

Biman Bangladesh Airlines handwritten ticket
TAT ticket for the RFG regional flight
ATB ticket
Romanian TAROM ticket from the 1980s, based on an
Edmondson train ticket

Types of paper tickets

There were three types of paper tickets recognized by IATA :

  • Manually completed tickets
  • TAT tickets, tickets created with a printer
  • ATB tickets (Automated Ticket and Boarding), with magnetic strips

The IATA decided on May 24, 2006 that from January 1, 2008, no paper standard traffic documents will be issued and billed worldwide. ATB tickets with machine-readable magnetic strips, in which both booking and check-in information can be stored, are excluded .

Included data

Tickets recognized by the IATA must contain this data:

Form ATB ticket with SCN (Stock control number)

Such a ticket contains a separate flight coupon with u. a. following data:

  • the title, first and last name of the passenger
  • the flight route
  • the booked calendar date
  • the booking class
  • Information on the air fare and air taxes (air traffic control fees, airport taxes, state fees, air traffic tax )
  • the date of issue
  • the issuing office (e.g. IATA agency)
  • the number of the ticket
  • the period of validity
  • Endorsement information: whether this ticket can still be changed after it has been issued (route, date, etc.)
  • the type of payment (cash, credit card, mco)
  • Fields for the number of checked bags and their weight

The first three digits of a ticket number indicate which airline this ticket was issued for. This 3-digit number is assigned by the IATA and is called IATA prefix . Tickets without a magnetic stripe contained multiple carbon copies for check-in , airline administration, the issuing travel agent, and the passenger.

Electronic ticket

Check-in machines

In the course of technical developments since the 1990s (electronic data processing, Internet), a ticket as a paper certificate for proof of transport authorization is now unnecessary, at least for most European airlines, as this proof is also provided by the passenger by naming a personal booking number assigned to him (Booking code) in combination with the presentation of his ID or the credit card used for the booking. Due to the electronic data storage of the passenger name record , many airlines can call up the booking in the respective airline's system without a booking code. United Airlines was the pioneer in flying without a paper ticket and offered electronic tickets for the first time in 1994. "Etix" refers to the electronic ticket procedure of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and is protected by trademark law. For other airlines, for example, the procedure is simply called "electronic ticket".

Even before paper tickets were abolished in 2008, the share of electronic tickets in bookings rose from 16% in June 2004 to 84% in 2007. In 2014, the share of paper tickets was only 0.1%.

Other ticket types

Paper charter tickets were sold by tour operators, e.g. B. TUI or Alltours and were mostly part of a whole package of authorization certificates, which also included Rail & Fly / train to flight tickets, hotel reservations, a transfer from the airport to the hotel or z. B. could contain rental car reservations. These tickets were not subject to IATA regulations and therefore contained significantly less information, mostly only:

  • Name of the passenger
  • Flight number
  • Flight date and time
  • Flight route
  • Name of the tour operator

Since the introduction of electronic tickets, the booking confirmation has generally been considered a ticket in the charter sector and with many low-cost airlines . The reservation code, file key and transaction number are also listed here. The reason for the procedure, which was first introduced in the charter flight area at the end of 2004, was in particular the cost savings due to the lower procedural effort for travel agency and ground staff. In order to reduce or even save on personnel costs in this area, many airlines gave passengers discounts as an incentive to use the ticketless procedure.


Since airlines offer cheaper international tickets, it can happen that a flight ticket is more expensive if only part of the route is flown, or half of the flight for a return ticket. The airlines try to use clauses in their terms and conditions to defend themselves against no-show passengers who only use the part of a trip that is favorable to them. That the return or onward flight forfeit a clause without compensation if the way is not furnished, the said Federal Court (BGH) in the case of Lufthansa and British Airways for ineffective . Since then, the airlines have been adding an adapted clause according to which passengers who allow parts of their booked flight connection to expire must pay a higher tariff. Their leverage is that otherwise they will not carry the passengers. This pressure medium does not work for passengers who let the last part of a route section expire. In December 2019 Lufthansa sued one of its passengers for doing this. The lawsuit was dismissed in the first instance; Lufthansa stated that it had appealed.

Web links

Commons : Tickets  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: plane ticket  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Kate Rice: Though e-tickets by far the norm for air travel, paper persists . Travel Weekly . March 4, 2014. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  2. IATA-Factsheet Electronic Ticketing ( Memento of December 8, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on November 3, 2013
  3. See BSP Manual for Agents ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  4. Article on electronic tickets , Heise
  5. ^ Last round for the paper ticket , Spiegel, August 27, 2007
  6. ^ BGH, judgment of April 29, 2010, Az .: Xa ZR 5/09 = BGH NJW 2010, 1958 .
  7. Lufthansa is suing no-show passengers. In: airliners.de. February 7, 2019, accessed March 3, 2020 .