The world’s airlines are struggling to meet the impending deadline for the global switch to “paperless” tickets, a leading travel agency group has warned.With little more than three weeks remaining until the International Air Transport Association’s June 1 deadline for 100% e-ticketing, Flight Centre Limited has warned of a number of outstanding concerns.
The company said while 90% of its customers’ tickets would be unaffected, significant issues had not been resolved in relation to:
á Customers travelling with infants, as most carriers would not allow infants to travel on e-tickets
á Some codeshare and interline fares involving more than one carrier
á Some round-the-world fares
á Some international carriers not having e-ticket functionality by June 1
á Carriers being unable to provide e-tickets on some routes, including flights to parts of India, China, Vietnam, Africa and South America
á Airlines’ inability to offer ticketing services outside normal work hours
“While we support the move to e-ticketing, it is clear that airlines in general are not ready to make the switch to a 100% paperless environment by June 1,” Flight Centre Limited managing director Graham Turner said.
“Significant progress has been made but, at the same time, significant issues have not been resolved.
“For example, with the deadline rapidly approaching, it is still unclear exactly which international locations do not have the systems in place to accept e-tickets.
“It is also unclear how long customers will have to physically wait to receive their tickets in cases where travel agents cannot issue them after May 31. Generally, airlines are not equipped to effectively deal with this additional ticketing workload.
“Another concern is that travellers needing after hours tickets to some locations may find there are fewer options in emergency situations as most airlines do not provide ticketing services around the clock, particularly outside their home country.
“Already, we have seen some fares withdrawn because of their inability to be offered by e-ticket.”
Flight Centre Limited has voiced its concerns to the International Air Transport Association through industry body the Australian Federation of Travel Agents.
The company has also advised its global network of travel agents to fast-track ticketing processes relating to affected bookings to beat the deadline and to minimise disruption.
“In some cases, airlines are in the process of upgrading their systems to alleviate some concerns,” Mr Turner said.
“We urge these airlines to fast-track their efforts ahead of the June 1 deadline to minimise disruption and delays.
“We also believe IATA should reconsider its 100% target and perhaps aim for 90% compliance from airlines by June 1 and 100% compliance within 12 months.”