What is Airline Ticket? History, Function, Types, Process

  • Post last modified:25 August 2021
  • Reading time:23 mins read

What is Airline Ticket?

An airline ticket is a document that is created by an airline or a travel agency, so as to confirm that an individual has purchased a seat on a flight on an aircraft. The document is then further used to obtain a boarding pass, at the airport. With the help of this boarding pass, a passenger is allowed to board the aircraft.

These days sit has become a common norm for the passengers to pay a fee that is assessed by the airline company to purchase a paper ticket. Issue of the paper tickets is no longer common these days and also IATA has announced that IATA member airlines will no longer issue paper tickets with effect from June 1, 2008.

Generally, a ticket is good only on the airline for which it was purchased but an airline has the right to endorse it so as to make it acceptable by other airlines as well. Sometimes it is on a stand by basis and sometimes with a confirmed seat. Usually, a ticket is meant for a specific flight.

The open ticket can be purchased sometimes which allows travel on any flight between the destinations listed on the ticket. Naturally, the cost of such ticket is greater than a ticket for a specific flight. Some categories of tickets are refundable. The low-cost tickets are however no refundable and carry further restrictions.

A ticket is made up of one or more flight coupons. In the old system of paper tickets, these coupons off light were actual tickets that were used for travel. For each leg of the flight, one flight coupon was used.

In a ticket, the carrier is represented by a standardized 2 letter code. In the ticket shown above, TG stands for Thai Airways. The departure and destination cities are represented as IATA airport codes. These are Munich and Bangkok for MUC and BKK respectively.

A ticket can be used by only one person and in case multiple people are travelling together, the tickets are linked together by the same record locator or reservation number, which are assigned if the tickets were purchased at the same time. If not, most airlines in the reservation system can connect the tickets together. This allows all members in a party to be processed in a group, allowing seat assignments to be together if the same are available at the time of the assignment.


History of an Airline Ticket

The history of airline tickets and the history of the airline industry coincide with each other. When every first passenger flights were available, the introduction of airline tickets took place. In 1910, the first airlines offering flights were DELAG airlines in Germany.

About five years later, the first United States commercial flights were available. Soon after American Airlines, Trans World and Delta Airlines came into existence, many airline companies were formed. Airline companies issued airline tickets, which were usually typed with a typewriter. However, sometimes airline tickets at the time were actually handwritten.


Functions of Air ticket

Airline tickets basic function is to verify that the passenger has the authority to board the flight and has paid his fare.

Before the usage of the Internet started, passengers had to call the airline office or a travel agency to purchase tickets. A ticket would be mailed to the passengers, after booking and paying for their trips.

However, with various technological advancements in recent years, most airlines, travel agencies and travel companies, such as Orbitz, Travelocity and Kayak, have the right to issue electronic tickets. This means a passenger can choose and pay for his flight online, then a confirmation receipt is sent to his email address or available on the website.

Passengers can print this document as an e-ticket and bring it to the airport. In case he or she forgets his or here-ticket, the airline can normally look up his reservation on the computer by his name and confirmation number. The airline ticket is often used to obtain a boarding pass after one reaches the airport. With the help of the boarding pass and the attached ticket, the passenger is allowed to board the aircraft.

Many airline tickets have information that can be read by a computer as technological advancements took place in this field. This is the reason why it is common for the passenger’s ticket to pass through especially designed computer before you board your flight. Once passed through with the help of which the airline can instantly get all information about the passenger’s ticket and is be able to confirm that the passenger indeed boarded the flight.


Types of Classes

Aircraft is divided into multiple classes of service. As a rule, higher classes are more comfortable, come along with additional services and naturally are more expensive. These classes are:

  • Economy: This class is the most basic class of service on most aircrafts. It provides basic seat accommodation and minimal in-flight catering service. This type of classis commonly purchased by leisure or family travelers.

  • Business Class: This is one step higher class than the economy class and it provide higher quality of service such as better seat accommodation and catering service. It is commonly purchased by business travelers or company executives.

  • First-class: This is the most expensive and most comfortable class, usually with personalize din-flight catering and entertainment service.

Types of Itinerary

  1. One way: Itinerary that is covered by a single ticket and involves travel in a single geographical direction

  2. Return: Itinerary that is covered by a single ticket and involves travel in two geographical directions and the origin is also the final destination

  3. Origin open-jaw: Itinerary that is covered by a single ticket and involves travel in two geographical directions but origin is not the same as the final destination

  4. Destination open-jaw: Itinerary that is covered by a single ticket and involves travel in two geographical directions, origin is the same as the final destination but there is a break mid – way.

Types of Airline Tickets

Today several types of airline tickets are used. One basis of distinction is the class of seat in the flight.

First-class is the most expensive while economy class is the least expensive. Varying degrees of luxuries such as legroom, a personal television, wide seats, etc are provided to the different types of classes.

Also, tickets can be classified by whether or not the ticket is refundable. It’s suggested by most airlines that the passenger purchase airline tickets 21days in advance to get the best possible rates.

Airports are now able to serve an enormous number of people quickly, efficiently and orderly due to the advent of the modern airline ticket. Although airport scan sometimes is a hassle to deal with, without airline tickets the experience would be much worse.

Airline tickets are very significant in terms of knowing exactly who is on a certain flight. That information can be seen in easily by both airline companies and certain agencies of government.

Open jaw Ticket

An airline ticket in which the traveller returns from a city other than the one he or she arrived, or in which the final destination is not the same as the original departure city is known as the open jaw ticket. Between these two cities, the trip is then made over land, sea or with a separately booked flight. An open angle rather than a closed-loop resembling an open jaw line is formed by the path-lines between the airports.

This type of arrangement is needed for boat cruises in some cases that do not return to the departure city. Sometimes, the traveller wishes to explore between two points and not have to worry about using time to return to the arrival city.

For example, a traveller might fly from London to India, travel around Delhi by public transport and fly back home to London from Mumbai. Such tickets offer a flexible and relatively in expensive way of flying, since such tickets are almost always less expensive than purchasing two round-trip flights between the destinations visited.

Round the World Ticket

Around the-world ticket enables travellers to fly around the world for a relatively low price. Such tickets are also known as round the world fare or RTW. RTW ticket has existed for some time and in the past was generally offered through marketing agreements between airlines on several continents. Nowadays, they are almost universally offered by airline alliances such as SkyTeam, StarAlliance and One.

Round the world ticket are priced on the basis of various parameters such as class of service, the origin of travel, number of continents, mileage (usually between 30,000 and 60,000 km), and sometimes season of travel. From the large and optimized network of the airline alliance, the traveller benefits and can participate in the alliance’s frequent flyer programs.

These tickets are usually subject to restrictions. It is significant to note that the start and end of the journey almost always have to be located in the same country and exactly one crossing each of the Atlantic and Pacific must be included in the itinerary. The number of stops is usually 5-16 and backtracking between continents especially Europe/Asia is often restricted. It is not necessary that the dates and journey have to be pre-planned, but may be changed en route at a local office of any airline in the alliance.


Components of Airline Ticket

Several sections of information are imprinted on the paper when purchasing an airline ticket. Some of the information, such as the name of the passenger, the ticket price and destination is comparatively easy to read, but at the same time there is some information in the ticket which is encoded, such as the seating class, airport and airline company.

These codes have detail about the travel arrangements and match a standard set of values.

At the centre of the ticket, we will find a green box labelled “Carrier/Flight.” This code indicates the name of the Airline Company and the flight number. The code of Airline Company is abbreviated.

Directly adjacent to the airline code, observe the code. This code is labelled “Class.” This code identifies the type of seat the passenger has purchased on the plane. For first-class tickets, the codes that are designated with the letters A and F. “A” refers to the airfare and indicates that it is discounted. C, D and J are codes for business-class seats. “D” means the ticket is discounted, and “J” means premium seating. The rest of the other codes stand for coach class seating. The popular codes for coach seating are H, K, L, M, O, N, S, V and Q.

Airport code scan be read on two places on the ticket. The boarding pass carries the destination and location of the trip, but in the top left corner of the ticket is the airport code for the origin and destination airports. The airport code is also in the centre of the ticket where additional information is located.

In the centre portion of the airline ticket, a document number can be noted. This is used internally by the airline and it is a company-specific identification number.


Types of Tickets

There are basically three types of tickets which are discussed below:

  1. Manual Ticket
  2. Automated Airline Ticket
  3. E-ticket

Manual Ticket

An airline ticket carries out three major functions. These are:

  • An authorization to travel
  • An evidence of the fare and amount paid

The following information is written on the ticket:

  • Coversheet: The cover sheet remains attached at all times to the ticket booklet.
  • Notice of incorporated terms which advise the passengers about the airline responsibility. Auditors coupon which is a green colored coupon in case the agency uses. Report In case the agency reports sales electronically through the CRS, the agency may opt to destroy the auditors coupon or keep at the agency.

  • Flight coupons where each coupon is numbered and these buff colored coupons remaining the ticket booklet and are given to the passenger. For each flight one flight coupon is required on the passengers itinerary.

    In case all the flight coupons are not needed, the can be marked as void. Void coupons can be either destroyed or best apled with the agents coupon. Before boarding an airline agent removes and keeps the coupon that is applicable to the flight being boarded.
  • Passenger receipt is the white copy that remains in the booklet

Automated Airline Ticket

These tickets are generally issued by the principal carrier and its ticket format consists of valid flight coupons and passenger receipts. There are two portions in this ticket which are flight coupons and passenger coupons. The passenger coupon can be used as a boarding pass both separated by perforation on the same coupon.

Information related to boarding, assignment of seat and baggage data were earlier entered on a boarding pass as passengers checked in at the airport. Resolutions and recommended practices by IATA now govern the specification and use of a combined computer produced ticket and boarding pass.

Automated tickets and boarding passes are produced in the form of multi coupons with the help of specialized air ticket printers which have now become quite popular. This was the time when multi-layered carbonize copies were phased out. The new tickets incorporate a magnetic strip that enables coupons to be passed through electronic readers that facilitates speedy check-in procedures.

Details of Automated Ticket

Airports these days handle a large number of passengers. Issuance of an automatic ticket as well as a collection of fare plays a vital role in the efficient and proper operation of the system.

In order to achieve this objective, an automatic ticketing system has been adopted by the airports which is simple, easy to use or operate, easy on accounting facilities, capable of issuing single as well as multiple journey tickets, amenable for quick changes in fare and require overall lesser manpower.

In view of the above, a computer-based automatic ticketing system has gained immense popularity.

Advantages of Automatic Ticketing system

  1. Less number of staff required.
  2. Recycling of ticket fraudulently by staff avoided.
  3. The system is efficient and easy to operate.
  4. System is suitable in case of quick fare changes.
  5. Generation of Management information reports easy.
  6. System has multi operator capabilities.

Description of Ticketing Process

Fare tariffs, rule sets, routing maps, class of service tables, tax information that constructs the price that is called fare.

Some of the rules like conditions of booking like minimum stay, advance purchase, etc., are customized according to different city pairs or zones, and assigned a class of service corresponding to its appropriate inventory bucket. Through the availability feeds, inventory control can be manipulated manually as well as dynamically controlling how many seats are offered for a particular price by opening and closing particular classes.

The process of ticketing includes issuing and storing of the records of electronic tickets and also paper tickets. The information in the electronic ticket is stored in a database that contains the data which was historically printed on a paper ticket. The information in the ticket consists of the following :

  • Items such as the ticket number
  • The fare and tax components of the ticket price or exchange rate information.

In early days, airlines used to issue paper tickets but since 2008 IATA has been supporting a resolution to move to 100% electronic ticketing. Now airlines has adopted a policy to issue electronic tickets to its passengers.

Steps for Ticketing

The passenger has to provide the details of the origin of the journey, the destination where he has to reach, the date of travel and the type of passenger i.e Adult, children, infant etc. The system automatically takes these parameters and applies the following steps:

  • Routing the journey: It is important because the number of possible routes can be many between the origin and destination, based on how much is the distance between both the destination, the number of intermediate airports between both the destination,etc.

    Therefore, the first step is to plan possible routes between the origin and the destination. A route is basically a potential way of getting from the origin to the destination via other airports.

  • Planning Schedule: Once routes are finalized, the flight schedule is decided between the origin and the first intermediate airport. This planning of schedule gives a clear picture about the flights that the customer can travel. At this step, many routes may get eliminated since there may not be any viable flights for those routes.

  • Availability of seats: Once data for the flight is available, the availability of seats on the flights can be found out. Many schedules may get eliminated at this level.

Codes and Abbreviations

Reservation Booking Designators

TypesCode
SupersonicR
First Class PremiumP
First ClassF
First Class DiscountedA
Business Class PremiumJ
Business ClassC
Business Class DiscountedD
Coach Economy ClassW
Coach EconomyY
Coach Economy DiscountedH
ThriftK
Conditional ReservationG
Shuttle Service (No reservation needed seat guaranteed)U
Shuttle Service (No reservation allowed seat to be confirmed at check-in)E

Action Codes

Cancel confirmed/requestedXX
Cancel listing (waiting list)XL
Cancellation recommendedXR
List (add to waiting list)LL
SoldSS

Advice Codes

ConfirmingKK
Confirming from waiting listKL
Unable –have waitlistedUU
Unable-flight does not operateUN
Unable to accept request or sale, flight closed –have not waitlistedUC

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