The International Air Transport Association announced yesterday that starting June 1, its 240 member airlines will stop issuing paper tickets and switch over entirely to electronic tickets.
According to this Washington Post article, where you'll find all the details, there are still a few kinks to be worked out. For instance, airline computer reservation systems need to be altered to account for infants who will need boarding passes but not seat assignments. And systems that allow passengers to check their bags once but transfer between airlines on two legs of the same journey need adjustment as well.
Passengers who don't have computer or printer access at home or on the road will be able to use ticketing kiosks at airports to print out their boarding passes. It's a little bit like picking up your concert or theater tickets at the box office on your way to the performance.
The switch will save the airline industry $3 billion a year, but it doesn't seem likely that any of the savings will be passed onto the e-ticket wielding public. In the meantime, if you do happen to have a paper ticket, tuck it away somewhere safe. It will soon be a collectors' item.