From yesterday, CATA (China Air Transportation Association) stopped providing paper ticket to ticket agents. This is an event that will eventually affect my life, and many others.
This is a great achievement. When the Southern China Airlines started e-ticket testing in 2000, 6 years past. The user behavior changes slowly, and till now, paper ticket is still 70% of all tickets.
My guess is, from today, travel agents cannot purchase blank paper ticket from CATA. They must have a lot of tickets in stock that they can continue to print out. However, by the end of this year, when most of the paper tickets in stock are used up, the travel agencies have to transit to using electronic tickets.
I am expecting more people using e-tickets and recognize e-ticket.
One of the key issue with e-ticket is, it does not work with the current reimbursement practice. In U.S. and other countries, a receipt can be of any form – a piece of paper with handwriting numbers, or printed receipt from a teller machine. In China, however, only government agencies can issue blank invoices, and merchants fill in the blanks on the standard format invoice. Originally paper tickets are type of that “official invoice”.
My friends in U.S. thought the invoice in China is like money note. That is true (with very high-tech anti-fake technology in it).
The e-ticket caused the problem. In many countries, you can just print out the receipt and reimburse with the paper. This is not working.
To meet this need, the travel agents are thinking of ways to workaround it. I believe finally, people still have to go somewhere to get a paper ticket. The blank tickets may still be bought from government, and the travel agents fill in the departing, arriving cities, and the price. This may be even done after the travel. In this case, the paper ticket is not used as part of the travel experience, it is all about the reimbursement (and sometimes tax) experience.
Another example of how the less-developed industry/process (the tax and reimbursement) stops fast pacing industry (airlines) from going faster.