ARC Chief: Electronic Ticketing Is on the Rise

BY FRAN DURBIN

WASHINGTON -- Electronic ticketing represents 9% of total agency sales through the Airlines Reporting Corp. and is growing, ARC president David Collins said.

Noting that electronic ticketing on international air sales has not taken off yet, Collins said electronic transactions represent about 12% of agents' domestic sales.

Electronic sales are not paperless because they still require some documentation for the agent and ARC. For example, the agent's and auditor's coupons are necessary and the agent must print out the flight coupons when refunding or exchanging an electronic sale. ARC held out the prospect that some of the paper may go away in the future.

Collins said that at some point down the road, the auditor's coupon will be eliminated on electronic transactions for agents who report their sales electronically to ARC, he said. "The next step would be to let agents keep their records on some type of electronic storage," which would eliminate the agent's coupon, he said.

Allan Muten, ARC director of corporate communications, said that someday, flight coupons no longer would have to be printed when electronic sales are refunded or exchanged. Muten said the CRS vendors are working on a special document on which the flight segments and dollar values would be listed. The document would have room for up to 24 flight segments per refund/exchange.

A piece of paper still would be required but the document would reduce the agent's security risk because it could not be used by anyone to board an aircraft, unlike flight coupons with a dollar value.

Meanwhile, for regular paper sales, Collins reminded agents that ARC will stop shipping transitional automated ticket (TAT) stock, effective Jan. 1, because it has been overtaken by automated ticket and boarding pass (ATB) stock.

Collins said agents' demand for transitional automated tickets has dropped off to the point where it represents "2% or less of what we ship." He also noted that the airlines postponed an industry-wide deadline, scheduled for last April, to make the investment to convert from first-generation ATB stock to the magnetic-striped ATB-2 stock, because the carriers are waiting to see how prevalent electronic ticketing will become.

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