eTicket blessing or curse?

Modern day technology is great and if airlines can reduce their flight cost slightly by introducing eTickets, then I’ll support it fully.  So, when we went to the Dominican Republic in December 2006, we were given eTickets.  Our kids were at that time 17 months (son) and 2,5 years (daughter).

For my parents’ generation, an eTicket is effectively a ticket that you get by email (I hope you know what email is?) and print.  Then you simply show the print-out to the ticket check-in person.

The journey started in Dublin, where we booked in our luggage and got our boarding cards; bounty beaches here we come. I will in another blog, tell you about the Dominican Republic as a travel destination, and how it was for the kids.

After two wonderful weeks in the Caribbean, we had to return home to Europe.  Flights from these parts of the World are normally overnight flights, so we left the hotel mid afternoon to make sure we had enough time to check-in and of course do some duty-free shopping; rum and sweets.

Approx. 150 people had the same idea as us, so when we arrived at the airport, we immediately started to queue.  Speed was not essential to the check-in staff and time was being wasted away standing and waiting.  I was amazed how well the kids behaved, considering the time of day this was.

These planes can carry 2-300 passengers and they all check-in at the same time!!  After queuing for almost 45 minutes, we were thankfully asked to come to the first class check-in desk; probably because they knew the kids would at some stage start to act up.  My prayers had been answered – excellent.

This is where our nightmare started.  The guy behind the counter didn’t know anything about eTickets and said that our son did not have a ticket and could not fly.  How did they expect he had arrived to the Dominican Republic and how was he meant to get back home?

So, staying calm, I kindly showed him our son’s eTicket (with his name) and his passport, to demonstrate that this was indeed a ticket and my son’s ticket.  But, to my horror, the clerk insisted that it was not possible for an infant (kids below the age of 24 months) to travel on an eTicket.  Were we meant to leave him behind alone?

The story is about to take another turn, as my wife had enough and demanded to speak to the supervisor.  Please note, my wife is from South America and the supervisor she’s from the Dominican Republic, so both with short fuses and hot tempers.

The South-American girls locked horns, steam starting to emerge from their foreheads and they were arguing for about 10-15 minutes solid – getting absolutely nowhere.  Well, except for demonstrating to the entire airport that they did not agree and did not intend to agree either.

I’m far from a relaxed traveller, which is an understatement.  I’m the kind of person that checks for tickets, passwords and money every 3 minutes, and leave for the airport 5 hours before check-in opens.  The closer we got to departure time, the more stressed I got, nervous that we wouldn’t make the flight – despite 150 people still hadn’t checked in!

My turn to talk to the supervisor. I turned on my Danish charm, much to the dismay of my wife, and calmly explained the problem to the supervisor.  We had bought the eTickets in Dublin, by a travel agency, and used them to fly to the Dominican Republic via Paris.  In order to get home, I even offered to pay for a new (real) ticket for my son, but assured her that I would demand a refund when I returned home to Ireland, contacting her boss.  I might even have mentioned the word legal actions.  She finally eased up and checked us in, against her air hostess religion.

The funny thing about this story is that my son was too young to sit in a seat by himself, so we were only meant to book him on the flight as a named passenger.  He was going to sit in our lap or sleep in a cot on the flight.

Right, luggage booked in and boarding cards in hand.  Off to security check-in.

It was my responsibility to carry the boarding cards – big mistake.

By mistake, I left a boarding card behind in security and when we were boarding at the gate, we only had three boarding cards!  Panic set in and I was starting to faint.  We were not meant to leave this place.  The air hostess contacted the check-in desk to check if they could get a replacement boarding card.  My wife was certain that it was the same “lovely” supervisor that answered the call.

Finally, they came walking slowly with a new boarding card – it was in fact my wife’s boarding I had managed to lose.  I was a nervous wreck at this stage.  Thanks to my wife, we managed to get on the flight home, boarding as the last passengers.  At this point, my son was getting very angry, but that’s another story.

Lessons learned:

  1. Make sure that your child, if less than 24 months, can travel on a eTicket
    1. If not, then get a paper ticket
  2. NEVER carry the boarding cards in one hand, while picking up a crate during security check-in with the other hand
  3. Relax, you will of course make the flight, especially if there are more than 100 passengers behind you during check-in

🙂 🙂


  1. Oh, The memories this article brings back to mind.
    I sympathize with all travellers and their children, especially with new born. Having move house, job and family from Cape Town to Windhoek, we flew in a little Fokker Friendship aircraft. But we had three babies, extra luggage, you name it we had it. So much so we had transport of our own to the plane, but when we got to the plane there were no seats together. Only single seats scattered around the plane. Well it was pandemonium, the whole plane load of people were asked to reseat themselves in the empty places. Boy, were we popular. So much so that I had to sit in between the pilot and co-pilot. But we got there only to find we had to live in a fisherman hut. And thats another story.

    • sounds like you had a ‘wonderful’ experience too. I’m sure you were very popular during and after the flight. Did it feel like being sent to the principal’s office, when you were sitting between the pilots 🙂 We are heading off on another journey in a few days, but this time we have three kids. Can’t wait to see what adventures that brings on. Have a great Christmas with the family.

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