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 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.

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