Hoping to speed travelers through check-in procedures and avoid mounting operational costs, United Air Lines Inc. plans to move to fully electronic ticketing by the end of next year.

The carrier said Monday that it will begin charging customers in the U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico a US$20 fee for paper tickets for all e-ticket eligible itineraries beginning Aug. 1, 2002.

Furthermore, United said that it will stop issuing paper tickets in the U.S. entirely by July 2003, with plans to switch to e-tickets for all eligible itineraries in the U.S. and internationally by January 2004.

The move to a completely electronic ticketing platform comes as the carrier attempts to cut down on lengthening check-in lines by encouraging passengers to use self-service check-in kiosks, which are now sprinkled in major airports throughout the United States and Canada. United said that it also has plans to add more self-service units in international locations soon.

United’s e-ticket move could also be an effort to cut down on personnel costs, which have grown substantially in the last year given the new security requirements placed on airlines since last year’s terrorist attacks.

United said that it will also be working with other carriers participating in the Star Alliance code-sharing initiative to implement e-ticket policies.