The Digital Age of Boarding Cards: Do You Still Have to Print Them Yourself?

  • By: pdstamp
  • Date: January 16, 2023

Traveling can be incredibly hectic, especially for larger families.

Having to reach the airport on time, get your passports sorted, and ensure that all your luggage has gone through can be very tedious.

So, sometimes, you might forget to print your boarding card.

This begs the question, do you have to print boarding cards yourselves?

You do not need to print boarding cards yourselves, though it is highly recommended that you do so. Even if you don’t have a printer, you can print them at a kiosk or from your airline’s counter. Moreover, all airlines with an electronic boarding pass don’t require a printed form of your pass in the first place.

In this article, we’re going to go over the nuances of a boarding pass in modern airports, whether it’s needed, when you should print it, and what are the advantages of doing so. So, keep reading!

Do Airlines Still Print Boarding Cards At The Airport?

Yes, airlines do still print boarding cards at the airport. Depending on the airport, there are three ways you can get your boarding card printed:

  • Through The Airline: You can head to your airline’s counter present at the airport, provide them with the relevant information, and they’ll print your boarding card. Depending on the airline, they might charge a fee.
  • Through The Kiosk: There are multiple self-service kiosks located throughout an airport. You can enter your details on those kiosks and get your ticket printed. Generally, these kiosks are free. However, your mileage may vary depending on the airport.
  • Photo / Printing Shops: Often ignored, a printing/photoshop is a great place to get your boarding card printed, especially if you are in a pinch. They aren’t as crowded as a kiosk or your airline’s counter and will be able to get the job done at a relatively inexpensive rate.

Is A Screengrab / Screenshot Accepted As A Boarding Pass?

If you have an electronic boarding pass, it will be accepted as a boarding pass. However, a screengrab or screenshot will not work if you have a completely printed boarding pass. Most airlines worth their salt, especially in the U.S. and Europe, use electronic passes. 

To bifurcate between the two, a screenshot will work just fine if your boarding pass has a barcode or QR code. We recommend taking a screenshot of your electronic boarding pass instead of resorting to an application when it’s time to check-in. This is because these applications can fail on you due to connectivity issues or glitches with the application itself.

Contrary to popular belief, a picture taken from another phone of an electronic boarding pass will also work.

However, it needs to be clear enough to read the QR code or barcode appropriately by the scanners when checking in

To clarify, when boarding is electronic, your QR code/barcode is all that matters. If a scanner can pick that up, it doesn’t matter whether the medium is through printed paper, a screengrab, or a tattoo on your arm (that’d be interesting to see, though.) 

Can I Fly Without A Boarding Card?

You cannot fly without a boarding card. You either need to have it printed or have it saved on your mobile application. If you don’t, there’s no actual confirmation that you are meant to board the flight.

In fact, some airports worldwide do not even let you get into designated areas without a boarding card.

So, while we recommend printing out your boarding pass beforehand, you’ll need to have some evidence of you having purchased a ticket to fly. Airline staff then follows the necessary procedures by either printing you a pass or validating your mobile boarding pass, ultimately letting you board the flight. 

Do You Have To Print Out Your Own Boarding Card?

No, you do not have to print out your own boarding card. But, it is highly recommended that you do so. Whether an airline uses a mobile application or accepts screenshots, having a boarding card ready beforehand saves you a lot of trouble.

For instance, the kiosks / counters may be crowded. In those cases, you won’t be able to print your boarding pass on time. Moreover, there may be extra charges involved. In either case, having a physical copy of your boarding card before entering the airport saves you from stress and anxiety.

Should I Print My Boarding Card Even If I Don’t Need It?

Yes, you should print out your boarding card regardless of whether you need it to board or not. This is because there are multiple advantages of having a physical boarding card, even if your airline accepts electronic mediums. They are:

  • Convenience: It’s easier to ask airline staff where your gate is by showing them a printed version of your boarding pass rather than taking your mobile phone out of your pocket, opening an application, and then having them glance at a screen.
  • Proof and Validity: If you’ve lost your luggage, a printed boarding pass is valid proof that you were present on that particular flight. While a mobile pass can be used, a printed form of your boarding pass makes things much more streamlined.
  • Expense Reports: Most companies usually require a printed version of a boarding pass when filing an expense report for compensation. So, if you don’t have a printed pass, you might not be compensated for your business trip.

Truth be told, most airports and airlines don’t require you to print anything anymore. But, in a highly stressful situation, such as checking into a flight with multiple individuals, it is just highly convenient for one individual to have printed boarding passes for the entire family.

Keeping everything in one place helps ensure boarding is smooth and streamlined. Plus, you’ll be saving a lot of time for you and everyone else as it can be quite a pain for airline staff to scan multiple boarding passes from mobile screens or print them at the last second.

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