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RealTime IT News

In Air Travel, E-Tickets (Increasingly) Rule

It's no secret that computers have revolutionized consumer air travel, especially with database fare checking and online ticket sales, and now some of the airlines are moving to get rid of paper tickets entirely.

Fort Worth, Texas-based AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, for example, has been looking to e-tickets as a way to cut costs and now says that over the next 18 months it will phase paper out of the process. Roughly 65 percent of its passenger tickets are already electronic.

Delta Air Lines Inc. said last month it would issue only e-tickets on most routes and charge a $10 fee to passengers who want paper tickets. Northwest Airlines is doing much the same.

The airline said it would cease issuing paper tickets for wholly domestic itineraries by March 2003 and plans to stop issuing paper tickets for all other itineraries and eliminate or automate other paper transactions by December 2003.

And to speed up the change, the carrier this week began charging $20 instead of $10 for a paper ticket to customers who qualify for an e-ticket (a computerized reservation), although the surcharge applies only to customers who buy their tickets directly from American Airlines via its AA.com web site, AA Reservations, at its Travel Centers and at airports.

The airline also is taking steps to add more self-service ticketing devices in airports.

American also is acting to eliminate interline agreements with other carriers that don't comply with the airline's forthcoming technical standards regarding e-ticketing. Such agreements among carriers allow baggage interchanges, passenger transfers, etc.