The friendly skies go virtual

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Hey, if you haven't heard, just a friendly reminder, everyone. On June 1, paper airline tickets will cease to exist. There will be some exceptions -- like small airlines that can't afford new computer systems -- but basically, every major airline carrier from American Airlines to U.S. Airways will stop issuing paper tickets to passengers.

These are new rules being issued by the International Air Transport Association, according to The Washington Post, which ran a story on this issue earlier in the week.

For many passengers, the ones who are using e-tickets anyway, nothing will really change. Tickets can still be bought over the phone, through travel agents and, of course, online. If a passenger doesn't own a printer, no biggie -- you'll just pick up your ticket at the counter or at those electronic kiosks in airports.

Why is this happening? Simple economics. Paper tickets cost $10 to create and process, while an e-ticket costs a mere $1. Your next question is of course, "Hey, so does this mean the airlines will be passing along the cost to the passengers?"

While I'm not exactly sure, but when I called a few airline help desks to ask, all I could hear was laughter. Maybe that means yes?

Geoff Williams is a business journalist, primarily for Entrepreneur magazine, and the author of C.C. Pyle's Amazing Foot Race: The True Story of the 1928 Coast-to-Coast Run Across America (Rodale, 2007).
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