IATA Invokes [Almost] Paper-free Travel

Back in August 2007, the IATA called to put an end to paper airline tickets and moved for a 100% e-ticket policy. From June 1st 2008, the policy will finally be put into action as all tickets issued via the IATA’s Billing and Settlement Plan will be electronic.

Empty ticket desk at the airport

It is estimated that the IATA issues over 400 million tickets annually, with around 16% of those currently being in paper format. Specialist printers were ordered last August to print the final batch of some 16.5 million paper tickets to last 60,000 accredited travel agents around the world. From Sunday, all use of those tickets will be stopped.

The move will not only have obvious environmental benefits, but will also save $9 (USD) per ticket, which would total up to saving an incredible $3 billion (USD) every year. Perhaps that can go towards those fuel price hikes, eh?

For years now, I’ve booked flights and checked-in online, but it always seems to be the case that you get to the airport and still end up with bits of paper to actually get on the flight. I think it wouldn’t be too much of a step further to go digital for boarding passes, too. There have been talks of allowing some sort of connection to mobile phones to receive data that acts as your boarding pass, but I’ve yet to see it successfully implemented. Let’s hope it’s not far off.

Save the World in an Hour

Earth Hour

When 2.2 million people in Sydney all turned off their lights for an hour in 2007, it reduced their overall energy consumption by over 10% for that hour. I think that’s a pretty neat achievement for something so easy to do. We had a similar thing shortly after with Lights Out London and that worked, too. This year, WWF have decided to take the step a little further by asking the entire world to participate. Come March 29th 2008 at 20:00, all you have to do is turn off your lights for an hour.

Of course, it won’t be the world all taking part at exactly the same time; the action will take place as each time zone hits 8pm. Current capital cities that have announced coalition include Bangkok, Chicago, Copenhagen, Dublin, Melbourne and Montreal. You can see the full list of entrants here and more are expected to join over the month.

I think Earth Hour is a good idea simply because of how easy it is. A lot of environmentally friendly acts can take time that people generally don’t have to spare. Being able to join in something so easy that makes a big difference, is exactly the kind of thing anybody can get involved with. It’s like how recycling used to be so difficult years back, you’d have to pile up everything and wait for a chance to visit the bottle banks and then drive elsewhere to recycle all the paper. Now in the UK, virtually everywhere has weekly recycling collections for most types of packaging and that’s easy for everyone to do.

Earth Hour won’t really save the world, but it’s a decent step that gets you thinking about how easy it is to save energy here and there. Plus you can help no matter where on Earth you are at the time.