Travel agents warn of air ticket shambles

A leading travel agency consortium fears the end of paper airline tickets at the end of this month will be “a shambles” and could trigger price increases.

Airline association IATA has called time on paper tickets from May 31, insisting passengers only be issued with electronic tickets. But these cannot be issued for about 4% of air journeys from the UK and Advantage has called for a six-month postponement.

It warns the deadline will stretch relationships between business travel agents and their clients to “breaking point”.

There is particular concern about interline tickets, where a passenger transfers between airlines and issuing an e-ticket depends on the carriers agreeing to accept one another’s tickets.

Advantage business travel director Norman Gage said: “Airlines that currently have paper-ticket interlining deals are dropping these because, come May 31, they don’t know how they will pay each other.”

He warned: “Global distribution systems might show a fare that it is not possible to book. It’s going to be a nightmare for agents.”

Advantage wrote to more than 50 airlines asking how they would handle business on routes on which it will not be possible to issue e-tickets and only six replied. Gage said: “Advantage is not against e-ticketing, but this deadline is not realistic.”

IATA has so far resisted calls to postpone the deadline and said it has no plans to reconsider.

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