IATA airlines to ditch paper tickets from June 2008

Only passengers with e-tickets will be allowed to board IATA-member airlines from June 1 and any agent issuing a paper ticket will find clients stopped at check-in and told to buy a replacement.

The deadline has alarmed many agents, with one describing it as “another Terminal 5”, despite the move having the support of ABTA.

TFC Travel Management managing director Julian Slatter warned agents would no longer be able to issue interline-tickets unless airlines have the necessary ticketing agreements. “We will be unable to ticket a lot of itineraries,” he said.

“Customers will have to check in and collect baggage [at connecting airports]. They may have to collect tickets at airports as they travel and if there is a baggage delay, who will send on their bags?”

Slatter still issues up to four paper tickets a week, but says other agents issue more. He said: “I do not believe IATA is ready for this.”

Advantage business travel director Norman Gage agreed customers face having to re-check bags for connecting flights and said the loss of interline-ticketing would mean more paperwork for agents. “It’s a bit of a dog’s breakfast,” he said.

An ABTA spokesman said: “We fully support IATA’s move to 100% e-ticketing. However, clear operating procedures must be in place to avoid any teething problems.”

IATA accepts it will not be possible to issue e-tickets for some journeys. In a letter to agencies it says: “Each BSP-participating airline should communicate to you their procedures for itineraries that are not eligible for an e-ticket”.

These include some interline journeys, group bookings, infant tickets, open segments and sectors using airports that cannot handle e-tickets.

Carriers may allow use of another document as a prepaid ticket advice or issue the ticket itself or issue agents with its own stock of paper tickets. But the onus will be on agents to “ensure you become informed of each individual airline policy”.

It suggests agents contact their GDS provider to enquire if “there is a feature to alert you when the itinerary cannot be issued on a single e-ticket”.

Slatter said: “It will be time-consuming if we have to check whether carriers have interline agreements every time we issue a ticket.”

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