Electronic airline tickets, or e-tickets, offer some conveniences to passengers, but using them is not quite as simple as scanning a printout at the airport. Whether you work with a clerk or use a self-service kiosk, use of an e-ticket still involves a check-in procedure that is far from completely automatic. At a minimum, you must provide positive identification, and any issues, such as checked baggage, must also be cleared through the system.

Print out your e-ticket or the validation e-mail you received before leaving for the airport. This gives you a better form of proof that you bought the ticket than writing down your verification and reservation numbers, and is usually more convenient than writing those numbers down.

Arrive at the airport with the usual time margins – as of 2011, 60 to 75 minutes for a domestic flight and two to three hours for an international flight -- for checking in, even with an e-ticket. The minimum check-in times of 30 minutes for a domestic flight and 60 minutes for an international flight still apply to e-ticket holders, as do the standard delays for checking luggage and security screenings.

Proceed to the check-in counter area for your airline and look for self-service check-in kiosks. If you have a major credit card -- and your passport for international flights -- and the kiosks are in working order, check-in electronically there.

Press the "Start" button on the screen, if there is one, and select your language. Identify yourself using your reservation/verification number and selecting your name or by swiping your credit card. Some self-service check-in systems require the credit card swipe.

Scan your passport as directed, if you are flying internationally.

Follow the instructions to check-in for each leg of your flight. Most of the self-service systems allow passengers to check-in for up to four flights on the same itinerary at once.

Enter the number of bags you intend to check. If any fees are due for checking bags or bags above the airline's free baggage allowance, you will be asked to pay the relevant fees by credit card at the self-service kiosk.

Select seating arrangements to make any last-minute changes to your seat location. Depending on the airline in question, you may also be able to pay for a seating class upgrade at this time, if you desire one.

Proceed to the airline counter if you have any problems with the self-service kiosk or if you have baggage to check. Submit your valid identification -- driver's license or passport -- and your e-ticket printout for check-in with the clerk, and hand over your baggage. Indicating checked baggage at the kiosk only saves you a little time, as you must still hand your baggage over at the counter.

Things You Will Need
  • E-ticket printout

  • Credit card

  • Passport -- international flights only

  • Driver's license


Self-service check-in is open to most, but not all passengers. Travelers with pets, infants, people traveling on special military fares, unaccompanied minors and other special travelers cannot use self-service kiosks and must proceed directly to the counter to check-in with the clerk.