Always Print Your Travel Itinerary (All-Electronic Isn’t)

There are many times it helps to have a printed e-ticket itinerary, and even a printed boarding pass. An itinerary can be helpful:

  • Getting into the airport Many airports in Asia — such as Bali, Male and Manila — will have security checking for itineraries on the way into the terminal.
  • Showing your onward travel plans at immigration. You may need to demonstrate you have an onward ticket when being admitted into a country, or for that matter when transiting. Transi security will often need to see either a boarding pass or itinerary.
  • Interlining bags across multiple itineraries. If you are traveling on separate tickets and checking bags, and want the airline you’re checking in with to interline those bags to the next airline in your journey, they’ll be much more willing to do so if you can show them an itinerary with details of the second ticket.

I use electronic boarding passes much of the time, but what happens on the rare occasions that airline computer systems go down? A printed boarding pass can be manually collected.

One reader months ago made a great suggestion to me for use of electronic boarding passes as well, when you pull it up on an airline’s mobile app take a screen shot.

I find that logging into the app can take awhile sometimes, especially without a great internet connection. That means delays getting into a club lounge or onboard a flight, and that can be awkward with a line of people behind you. Don’t be that traveler.

We’re not yet in a reliably all-electronic world.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I print 2 copies of our Itineraries, one goes with us and the other stays with friends, also I have photo copied our passports, one stays with us and again a copy stays with friends. If our Itinerary changes our friends are notified.

  2. I already do as Scott and Tony suggested and take a screenshot of my Electronic ticket. I print a copy for my carry-on and my computer bag.

    There are apps to share your itinerary with spouse or friends.

    Can’t be too safe.

  3. Never had to show the itinerary in Manila; you can however not get into any Indian airport without having a print-out (not electronic version) of your itinerary.

  4. “One reader months ago made a great suggestion to me for use of electronic boarding passes as well, when you pull it up on an airline’s mobile app take a screen shot.”

    Personally, I’ve found this particularly useful with Amtrak’s Android app (IDK about iPhone). It tends to take FOREVER and sometimes fail. Why? Because it never stores the QR code locally. Even though you see it cached on the main screen of the app if it’s your day of travel, it’s not big enough (on my phone anyway) to actually get the Amtrak rep to scan. Screenshot. Zoom. BOOM.

  5. Had this problem trying to leave Delhi a few years ago. While I waited outside, the security officer took my passport to the ticket counter and came back with a printed itinerary.

  6. I just went through Bali and Male this week…no one asked for itineraries/return tickets and I went in to Male on a 1-way and out to Bali on another, then out of Bali on a separate ticket.

  7. I ALWAYS carry two printed copies of my air and hotel itinerary. Better to have something and not need it than need it and not have it.

  8. United’s app stores the boarding pass locally, so even in airplane mode it can be pulled up. That said, Passbook is a better option because it is offline and also turns up screen brightness all the way so the code can be read more easily. Regardless, I print the itin and then get a paper ticket at the airport.

  9. @Scott – Screenshot so much simpler, and can be integrated with a variety of apps if you’d like. Didn’t know men used iPhones anyway.

  10. I always have a printed file of my airline and hotel bookings, though last month at SIN I ran into a problem checking in with JAL for my return flights (JL and AA). Handed the copy of my booking to the agent and she typed away, then said she couldn’t find me and there was no record of the ticket number I had (issued by AA). As it turned out, because AA re-issues tickets when an international upgrade comes through, it often does so under a new ticket number. As this happened mid-trip I was not near a printer to print off a copy of the new, upgraded itinerary (and ticket number).

    Fortunately I was able to pull up the email version and JAL was able to find my booking (still don’t know why they couldn’t find and confirm it by flight, date and name…?) So it appears to be important to print off the most recent version of any airline tickets too.

  11. Save your itinerary as a PDF on your iPad or tablet device. We’ve traveled through Central Asia and even the Maldives (Male) without concern. I agree with having paper tickets tho!!

  12. Just in relation to Bali I have had two (international) flights out of there in the last month – first flight had no interest second flight were turning people away at the barrier just before the spot you pay departure tax if you did not have it. My strong recommendation always print it just in case when leaving Bali

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