Airlines to mask credit card numbers

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NEW YORK -- Responding to complaints from agents, the airlines are moving toward new rules that will mask consumer credit card numbers on the flight coupons of paper tickets.

A federal law, signed last December, requires that all but the last four numbers be masked on credit card receipts. A similar requirement exists in the European Union.

The airlines are in compliance as far as the printed receipts are concerned, but when a GDS is used to print tickets on ARC's standard ticket stock, the full credit card number still appears on coupons.

A joint Air Transport Association-IATA passenger services committee, meeting in June, agreed unanimously to truncate the card numbers on all coupons. It is not clear when new rules will be written and implemented, but an ARC spokesman said he expected this to move fairly quickly.

For Pnina Shichor, president of Bound to Travel in Fullerton, Calif., the move can't come soon enough. She recently issued tickets for a 35-person multisegment trip and found credit card numbers on every coupon.

She asked British Airways if she could manually black out all the numbers except the last four digits. The carrier wouldn't assent, warning that the tickets would appear to have been tampered with, which could cause problems for the group in one or more airports.

You can reach the journalist who wrote this article at [email protected].

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