Do We Take Electronic Ticketing For Granted?
T hanks to the advent of electronic ticketing, I booked a ticket for someone I knew who is an elderly person — as he has never been proficient with a computer — and after typing in all of the criteria on my computer to book his airline ticket during a telephone call with him, I informed him that he is now booked and ready to go.
“How do I get my information?” he asked.
It would be an exercise in frustration to send information to him via an e-mail message; so I started to tell him to write down the information he needed while giving it to him during our telephone call.
“All you need to know is the airline on which you will be a passenger, and the date and time of your flight.”
“What about my seat number?”
“I will give it to you, but you will not need it until you check in at the ticket counter at the airport.”
I did not even dare attempt to tell him that he can use a kiosk instead of going to the ticket counter. That information is beyond comprehension to him.
Anyway, I gave him the number of the seat to which he was assigned.
“How will I get the rest of my information?” he asked.
“You know — the papers I will need to get on my flight.”
I attempted to assure him that he needed no papers. All he needed was his identification card issued by the government.
“But I need my papers”, he said in a slightly exasperated tone.
Mind you, he has traveled before numerous times. Even though his memory is not terrible, we have gone through this before.
“All of your information is on the computer at the airport”, I reassured him. “All you have to do is show up at least 90 minutes before your flight and give the agent behind the ticket counter your identification card. They will print a boarding pass for you and you will have everything you need to board the airplane.”
He has done this before, but he is not a frequent traveler. As with previous times, he marveled at the technology. It is so difficult for him to understand that I do not have to be at the airport, go to a city ticket office, visit a travel agency, or place a telephone call to purchase an airline ticket which he will never see. He still remembers the days of having his itinerary, boarding pass and the 17,000 pages of the contract of carriage, all neatly tucked away in some paper ticket jacket which he had to carry with him at all times, as handed to him personally by a live human being.
He also remembers that if those papers were lost, he could have been in trouble — big trouble. It was all of that conditioning over the years of how important it was to not lose or forget your papers — or else you may not board your flight — which caused him to be nervous about showing up at the airport empty-handed.
I reassured him again that all he needs to do is show up on time with his identification. I even ordered his wheelchair service so that he did not need to walk long distances; and he would not need to remove his shoes at the airport security checkpoint due to his age.
He not only had no problem traveling, but he also somehow managed to arrive at his destination 50 minutes early. I still am not clear on the details on how that happened. All of that worrying for nothing.
Given all of the latest policies by the airlines which seem to be negative, whether new or changed — we tend to forget about some of the conveniences which we now take for granted. One of those conveniences is electronic ticketing, where we no longer have to worry or be concerned about losing that precious ticket. It was during the time I was assisting this person when I realized that I have taken it for granted.
What do you think? Do you feel the same way? Can you think of some other positive conveniences we as frequent travelers currently enjoy which we may take for granted?
I can tell you one right off of the top of my head: as a photographer, it sure is convenient to carry a few tiny cards which fit in a pocket whenever I travel — rather than lugging bricks of film and stacks of recordable video tapes…