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I fly at least once a month and always insist on printing out my boarding pass. Here's why you should, too.

INSIDER logoINSIDER 18-01-2020 Sophie-Claire Hoeller

Flying has come a long way. 

© Alison Millington / Insider

Today, traveling by plane is a mostly paperless experience with little human interaction.

We book our tickets online, check in at self-service kiosks, and download our mobile passes straight to our smartphones.

But is that really the smartest way to travel?

Personally, I like to take an old-school approach to air travel. I'll print my boarding pass and chat up gate agents and check-in agents when necessary.

Talking to a real-life human has helped me avoid seat assignment fees when my husband and I wanted to sit together, get onto a different flight when necessary, and even score the occasional (rare) upgrade.

As for printing out my ticket, don't confuse that step with checking in at the airport: I do still check in online. That's the best way to ensure getting the seats you want and avoid getting bumped should the plane be overbooked since you're high on the list of passengers who'll be on the flight.

In pics: These are the most powerful passports in the world, Henley Passport Index says (Slideshow by USA TODAY)

And while I will send my boarding pass to my phone, I'll also print it. If you're shaking your head at the old-fashioned extra step (I mean, who even still has a printer?), or the unnecessary waste of paper, hear me out.

Technical malfunctions happen

My phone has died at the airport more times than I can count. The app will crash. The battery will die. The Wi-Fi will fail. The page will time out. I'll run out of data. The phone will lock itself at the most inopportune moment. The darn screen will keep rotating.

Something always happens just as I've made it to the front of the line at boarding, rendering me flustered, and I'll become that awful person holding up everyone else. Not a good look for a professional traveler.

TLDR: Tech is not to be trusted. And yes, I know that I can also take a screenshot of the mobile pass, and usually do, but that only cancels out some of the pitfalls I mention.

© Maskot/Getty Images A piece of paper in the hand is better than a phone in your pocket

I always have my hands full juggling carry-ons, snacks, water bottles, my passport, etc., struggling to pull up my phone which I've just dropped deep into my handbag or stuffed into some pocket or other.

With a paper ticket, I print it, throw it between my passport pages, and don't have to worry about it again.

Some airports don't allow mobile passes

Some airports actually need you to present a paper ticket.

American Airlines, for example, hedges on its website that you can use your mobile boarding pass at "most" airports, and asks travelers to "check to see if your departure or connecting airports accept mobile boarding passes." Lufthansa has a whole list of routes that don't take mobile passes, and Air Canada, like many other airlines, simply states on its website: "You will not be able to receive an electronic boarding pass if you are flying out of an airport where the service is not available."

And even if one leg of your trip allows for e-tickets, the next might not.

There are plenty of situations - however unlikely - that could arise that render mobile passes inconvenient

The airport's systems could go down; the scanner could be broken; there could be bad weather, mass cancellations, and long lines when you're already low on battery; you could drop your phone and crack the screen, rendering it unscannable.

A paper ticket is just simple, straightforward, and there for you, with all of your travel details in one easy-to-find place.

Air travel is already stressful enough, and with a paper ticket in my hand, I have one thing less to worry about. 

Also watch: 5 Places You Can Cruise To Without A Passport! (Video by Buzz60)



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