Southwest Says So Long to Ticket Jackets, Ending Era Among US Airlines

May 31, 2019

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Another once-iconic part of the air travel experience is set to fade into the history books.

That will come Saturday, when Southwest Airlines does away with its ticket jackets. The story was first reported by USA Today.

Ticket jackets were once a staple of air travel. The paper document holders harken back to an earlier age of flying, one that came before electronic tickets and flimsy boarding passes printed out from self-service kiosks.

Introduced decades ago, ticket jackets helped travelers protect their airline tickets at a time when they were issued on paper and not easily replaced if lost.

Today, travelers have little need for the jackets. Many now use digital boarding passes stored on their smartphones. And those paper boarding passes used to board at the gate are now are easily replaceable, with customers’ actual ticket information typically stored electronically in airline reservation systems. 

Southwest confirmed its plan to The Points Guy, saying ticket jackets will be eliminated June 1. The company had been issuing about 22 million ticket jackets a year.

“We are constantly studying ways to reduce waste, use less paper, and ultimately become a greener company,” Southwest spokesman Dan Landson says in a statement to TPG.

UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 23: Kyle Henderson of Alexandria, Virginia checks his boarding pass at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter Wednesday, November 23, 2005, at the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport in Baltimore, Maryland. Kyle arrived several hours early to the airport to beat the rush of people before he flies to visit his family for the holidays. (Photo by Chris Greenberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
A Southwest passenger holds a ticket jacket at Baltimore/Washington International Airport on Nov. 23, 2005. (Photo by Chris Greenberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


He acknowledged changing technology and customer preferences also played a role.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of customers using mobile boarding passes and thus not using ticket jackets as much as in years past,” Landson said. “Through this change in behavior, we feel like we’ve reached a good point to transition away from paper ticket jackets.”

Southwest had been the last major US carrier to offer ticket jackets, according to USA Today’s Dawn Gilbertson.

She says United eliminated its ticket jackets in the early 2000s while others – including American and Spirit – offered them as recently as five years ago.

Now, with the retirement of ticket jackets at Southwest, the aviation industry will have another relic from a bygone era to appreciate.

Featured image: Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

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