Paper lift tickets now a relic in Aspen |

Paper lift tickets now a relic in Aspen

ASPEN, Colorado – Save any old lift tickets from Aspen-Snowmass. They are officially relics from the past.

Paper is out, and high-tech tickets resembling credit cards are in for the 2009-10 season, says Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president David Perry. The new lift tickets will be similar in size and firmness to a credit card. They will be read by the “radio frequency gates,” which will be in extensive use throughout the four ski areas.

“We’ll be 100 percent gates, and all tickets and passes will be radio frequency,” Perry says.

The gates are designed to speed the flow of skiers and riders through lift lines. Instead of getting scanned by a liftie, all customers will pass through the gates which automatically scan the ticket or pass.

There were 24 gates at the four ski areas last season. There will be 42 this season. Last winter, passes could be read by the gates but not lift tickets.

“Passholders are familiar with the gates and come to, I think, appreciate them,” Perry said.

The new tickets will be reusable, “reloadable” and refundable, Perry said.

Let’s say a skier from Des Moines, Iowa, comes to town and purchases a three-day lift ticket. The three days are loaded onto that credit card-like ticket. The skier can keep the ticket in his wallet or her jacket and not worry about displaying it or attaching it to clothing. The radio frequency gates automatically scan the ticket as the holder passes through.

When the three days are used up and the skier has a appetite for more time on the slopes, an additional day or days can be purchased, and the same card can be used. At the end of the vacation, the skier can keep the card as a momento or return it and get refunded for a $5 deposit.

The same tickets can be used in future seasons. Eventually, consumers will be able to load them online, but not next season, Perry said.

The radio frequency lift ticket is used extensively in Europe. It is in full use at a handful of small U.S. resorts and partially at some larger resorts such as Vail.

“We’re not the first, but we’re the first major destination resort to do 100 percent,” Perry said.

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