AGENTS have warned they are not ready for changes to
International Air Transport Association rules that signal the end of manual air
ticketing.

From tomorrow manual tickets are banned and agents
will only be allowed to issue tickets through automated ticketing facilities.

IATA is keen to push the trade towards electronic
ticketing and wants to wipe out old processes.

But the Scottish Passengers Agents’ Association
airline spokesman, Ken McNab, claimed about 60% of its members were not ready
for the change.

McNab, who is also managing director of The Travel
Company, said: “We have automated ticketing facilities in our Glasgow and
Edinburgh offices, but none at one of our smaller branches. What does that mean
we do? Not issue tickets from that branch or ticket from another branch?
Sometimes you need paper tickets.” 

Many agents fear not being able to issue tickets if
their machine breaks down. Proprietor of Reading-based Amber Travel Navin Rajp
predicted agents may be forced to

subscribe to another global distribution system to
obtain another ticketing machine as back-up.

Despite IATA insisting individual airlines will issue

retailers with contingency instructions, many in the
trade fear the change will create confusion and add to costs.

BA has told agents to call its 50p-a-minute premium
Rapport line if they can’t solve the problem of a faulty ticketing machine by
issuing an e-ticket, which could wipe out a chunk of any profit made on a sale.

Rajp said: “It will leave agents in an
embarrassing situation if their machine breaks down. It can take a long time to
get through to airlines and all that time the customer is waiting.”