I previously booked online, at the specific airline's own site, two e-tickets for upcoming travel to Italy. While at the airport recently, we went to the airline ticket counter to see about getting an actual paper ticket. I believe in the past this has been your suggestion, so in event of changes, cancellations, etc., the physical ticket, in-hand, can provide one with options, such as perhaps switching to another airline.
Aside from the $50 charge that would be assessed (per ticket) to get a paper ticket, the agent said we were safer with the e-ticket; in case our paper printout was lost, there would still be the record in the system. Whereas the paper ticket, if lost, would create greater problems to replace. Are we OK with the e-ticket? Or should we spring the $50 for the physical ticket? Your thoughts?
–Jon, Orlando, Fla.
Once upon a time (that is, a few years ago), an e-ticket was significantly less useful in terms of changing flights or fixing things if they went wrong. In those days, I did definitely recommend getting a paper ticket. These days, airline reservation systems have become more integrated electronically, making it much easier to use your e-ticket to change flights, dates, and the like, than it once was.
While there are a few limited scenarios where it could be useful to have a paper ticket, in normal circumstances it's not necessary. That said, you always need to make sure you've got some type of confirmation beyond the e-ticket just being in the system. Printouts of confirmation, and confirmation numbers, are always good to have at hand, along with your complete itinerary with flight numbers and seat assignments.