April 14, 2024

Banos Online

Traveling Around the World

A look at the history of the paper boarding pass as more airlines discontinue the physical card in favor of a digital ticket.

A souvenir, a memento or a
physical memory from a special trip

For those who save their boarding pass as a
memento, the idea that they could be eliminated at
some point may be disappointing. 

“[The boarding pass] just adds something to these
memories,” Hartveldt said. “That flight was more than
just another trip on a thing with wings, it was
somehow special.”

We asked our readers if they keep their old, paper
boarding passes from memorable or important trips  
as mementos. And, if so, why.

Keep scrolling to read their stories.

Entries have been edited for length and clarity


A sense of pride for my parents

Coming from a developing country where travel, especially abroad, is a privilege, it gives a sense of pride. I felt air travel is a luxury because I only got to do it when I started working.

When I was younger, we could only afford road trips. When I started traveling because of work, it also gave my parents a sense of pride. They worked hard to give me a good education. I kept the boarding passes from those trips.

Abi Cruz, The Philippines


Unexpected far away places

Unexpected far away places

I save the ones from unusual routes, especially those between airports in faraway places that I once didn’t anticipate a reason to visit. 

I imagine a younger version of me looking at them and wondering, “Why will I be on that flight?”

Shomir Wilson, State College, Pennsylvania, USA


My children’s college campuses

My children’s college campuses

The airline visits to each of my children’s college campuses are two of the ones I have saved. 

I think looking at those and remembering all the excitement of starting that part of their life journey will be impactful as they grow older.

Shawn Arrington, Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

A sense of accomplishment

A sense of accomplishment

I collected boarding passes in my early stage of my career because as a Pakistani immigrant to the USA of humble beginnings, it gave me a sense of accomplishment. 

When I travel now with my wife and three boys I always opt to print. I love seeing the sense of responsibility in my 14-, 12- and 8-year-old boys as they get to keep it safe, show it at TSA, then again at the gate check in. I let them keep their passports for that too to make sure they learn the protocols of travel so when they grow up to travel alone, I don’t need to worry if they will know what to do. 

To me it’s a literal rite of passage.

Khurram Baloch, Frisco, Texas, USA


Starting a new life

Starting a new life

I still have the boarding pass of the flight I took when I moved to the US as a graduate student about 25 years ago. 

An Air India flight, direct from Mumbai to Chicago. It was my first time in the US. 

I have been a US resident ever since.

Rahul Ponniah, Acton, Massachusetts, USA


I went to visit my penpal in the United States

I went to visit my penpal in the United States

I have kept several boarding cards from my first ever trips to the USA from my home in Ireland as a teenager, I went to visit my pen pal and we have been friends for nearly 40 years!

Niamh Coughlan, Donegal, Ireland


A permanent record of my flights

A permanent record of my flights

I have saved more than 1,000 paper boarding passes and paper tickets since my first scheduled commercial flight in 1971. 

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have flown scores of aircraft that are no longer in scheduled service, from the DC-3, Electra, 707 and Concorde. 

Because of these little paper cards, I have a permanent and verifiable record from each of those flights.

Brian Baum

A reminder of my bravery

A reminder of my bravery

I kept mine as a reminder of my bravery. I had a terrible fear of flying and took a job that required extensive travel. I started collecting them as a reminder of every time I overcame fear.

Nicole Harris, Omaha, Nebraska, USA


Physical memories of adventures

Physical memories of adventures

These are artifacts to me; physical memories that remind me of the adventures I had as a young woman in my twenties who was just trying to figure out who she was. 

I keep them to remind myself of all of the hard things that I’ve done and the transformative growth that I have experienced. 

I also save them for this very reason; the world is changing scarily fast. I want my future grandkids to know what life was like before flying cars and AI ruled the world.

Diana Miceli, Rochester, New York, USA


A reminder that I had reached my dream job

A reminder that I had reached my dream job

I started working in the airline industry in 2013. With the career came the benefits of free or heavily discounted flights.

When I first started utilizing my benefits, I kept every single boarding pass as a reminder that I’d reached my goal of having my dream job.

Christopher Sousley, Tacoma, Washington, USA


Memories of trips with my grandma

Memories of trips with my grandma

My grandmother took me on our first trip to Europe in 2000, I saved the ticket from the flight… 

She took me on many trips over the years and whenever I see the pieces of paper or airline tickets it transports me back to that time and place with her. 

She was my favorite person in the world and it always makes me smile.

Roxana Heinz, Missoula, Montana, USA

I flew about 350 flights

I flew about 350 flights

I have saved all my Pan Am boarding passes from ‘85 to ‘91 when my wife was a flight attendant for Pan Am. 

I flew approximately 350 flights.

Jeremiah Wall, Clarksburg, Maryland, USA


I still have my 9/11 boarding pass stub

I still have my 9/11 boarding pass stub

I still have my 9/11 boarding pass stub. UA971 Milan/Malpensa to San Francisco, with a stopover at Washington Dulles. 

We made it over the UK and then the plane turned back around to Italy.

I had previously saved other boarding passes but threw them out when I moved a few years ago.

Suzanne Welker Jurgens, San Francisco, US

We hope you enjoyed the journey!