Global distribution systems have reassured the travel trade they are ready for the ban on paper airline tickets at the end of May.
Airline association IATA insisted it would not retreat from its May 31 deadline for abolition, despite industry bodies accusing airlines of inaction. An agent issuing a paper ticket from June will find their client stopped at check-in and told to buy a replacement electronic ticket.
However, IATA may face a legal challenge from at least one agents’ association outside Europe.
The European agents’ and tour operators association ECTAA warned that 10% of agency-issued tickets worldwide are still paper. The figure in the UK is about 4%.
A proportion of itineraries remain ineligible for an e-ticket – including group bookings, infant tickets, open segments and sectors using airlines or airports that cannot handle e-tickets. There is also a problem with itineraries involving two or more airlines that do not have interline-agreements.
Where e-tickets cannot be issued, GDSs say they will issue electronic Miscellaneous Charges Orders that will be accepted at airline desks.
Guild of Travel Management Companies chief executive Philip Carlisle said: “We are grateful the GDSs have done something IATA seemed incapable of. Now we need details from the airlines, which have been woeful so far.”
Institute of Travel Management executive director Paul Tilstone went further, saying: “This is a non-issue. If there are problems it is the GDSs’ and TMCs’ job to sort them out.”