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Why Do Some Airlines Keep Offices In City Centres?  
User currently offlinePs76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 8388 times:


One of the things I like doing when in a city (most of the time for me it is London) is visiting airline offices. Although I like doing this I wonder if they are becoming a thing of the past and with the internet and everything becoming kinda redundant and a waste of money. Here in London Emirates have a nice office in Gloucester Road near Kensington. The staff in there seem to be on the phone a lot but I rarely see people walking in. They even have little destination booklets and travel class booklets which are great and very old school! I'm pretty sure Iran Air and Aeroflot and Air France and Korean Air also have offices on Green Park and I think JAL used to have an office near Oxford Street next to a Japanese department store. I have never really noticed any of these places being very busy these days. Also Air New Zealand used to have a big office near Piccadilly but I don't know if it's still there as I haven't been there for a while.

So my question is really for anyone who knows anything about the airline industry either from working in it or as an enthusiast. Do you think these offices have a place in today's World? Do they still provide a vital function (like changing dates on people's tickets?) or could the same thing be done at the ticket desk in the airport or on the internet. I can't imagine what the rent is or how much they could make by selling them because most of the offices at least in London are in some very expensive areas.

Please don't get me wrong I love airline offices in cities but I just wonder if they are hugely uneconomical in today's age of internet and high fuel prices and stuff.

Any thoughts welcome.

Many thanks,


54 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
User currently offlinemetjetCEO From United States of America, joined Jun 2007, 416 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 8173 times:

I would suspect that there is a large population (older) that will always prefer to have face to face contact and may not know how to use the internet. In large population centers like London, NYC, etc. I would assume that they generate enough traffic to justify the location.

At the very least, they are a constant advertisement to everyone that drives and walks past.

User currently offlineAirAfreak From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 750 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 8115 times:

I'm not older, but I still miss the Delta City Ticket Office at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills. A plane ticket and then a short stroll to Trader Vic's for a Scorpion Bowl!!!! (And then a dodgy 5 minutes drive to my home) haha

Here in Los Angeles, a Korean Air City Ticket Office still exists as of today.

Do you lead an Intercontinental life?
User currently offlineheysfo From United States of America, joined Jul 2009, 61 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 8091 times:

TACA still has the only airline office left in SF , as a street level walk-in ticketing location

User currently offlinePs76 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 7994 times:


Quoting heysfo (Reply 4):
From a USATODAY 2007 article

Many thanks for the article. Made for an interesting read.

Quoting heysfo (Reply 4):
And they'll remain important to airlines, he says, as long as some people don't use computers and continue to pay for tickets with cash or checks. About a third of outbound overseas tickets — average price: $1,400 — are purchased that way, he says.

That is very suprising. I'd never have thought that a third of overseas flight were purchased manually.

Quoting heysfo (Reply 4):
US Airways has one at its Tempe, Ariz., headquarters.

Although I can't imagine it costs very much to run I would think having an office in Tempe would be more of a gesture than a big money maker.

Many thanks,


User currently offlineBen175 From Australia, joined Jul 2008, 814 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 7942 times:

A lot of airlines still have offices in Perth's city centre: EK, MH, SQ, QF, TG and even Batavia who haven't launched services yet!

User currently offlineTWA772LR From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 3810 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7690 times:

Does anyone know if the TACA office in Houston is still around?

To fly is to be human. To soar is to be devine.
User currently offlineKGRB From United States of America, joined Sep 2010, 948 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7673 times:

Quoting Ps76 (Reply 4):
US Airways has one at its Tempe, Ariz., headquarters.

Although I can't imagine it costs very much to run I would think having an office in Tempe would be more of a gesture than a big money maker.

I don't think that's still true. I have been to the US Airways Tempe HQ and, as far as I know, you need employee credentials to access the building, except for the company store (where I am almost certain you cannot purchase tickets).

User currently offlineWingtips56 From United States of America, joined Dec 2010, 728 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7660 times:

City ticket offices used to make more sense when paper tickets were the rule: some airlines only operated at the airport at midnight, so the city offices provided ticketing during business hours. And you don't want to be waiting to check-in at the airport stuck behind some guy doing his 7th complex international ticket reissue.

But I do remember walking the length of Picadilly St. from the Green Park to Picadilly Circus, looking in all the airline office windows. It certainly was for prestige along with any hint of customer service response. I did chuckle at the then-Soviet Aeroflot office, with a full-size cut out of one of their .. uh... striking air hostesses sporting white socks. And the cut-away view models of the airplanes and all.

But they are an expense, and the first thing cut by many of the airlines when the economy turned. And now, almost all ticketing is electronic, and you can have those complex international reissues done over the phone.

Progress..... :|

Worked for WestAir, Apollo Airways, Desert Pacific, Western, AirCal and American Airlines
User currently offlineSchweigend From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 748 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 7548 times:

A lot of U.S. airlines still have City Ticket Offices in foreign cities, but most or all of their domestic CTOs were closed in the wake of 9/11, etc. United may still have one in NY-Penn Station, but I don't know for sure. I used to be able to check in there for flights from EWR before getting on the NJT train from Manhattan.

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 6):
Does anyone know if the TACA office in Houston is still around?

According to the Houston Yellow Pages dated May 2012, TACA has an office at 5821 SW Freeway. Aviateca and Pakistan Airlines also are shown with CTO addresses. No others....

User currently offlineRWA380 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4570 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 7522 times:

At one time or another UA had two different ticket offices here in Portland Or, one by Lloyd center on NE Multnomah, and downtown on SW 6th Ave around Madison IIRC. But there used to be AA, CO, WA, AS, LH (before they flew here) But all are gone, At one time SW 6th Ave used to be the place to have a ticket office. I love going overseas and visiting CTO's.

Next Flights: PDX-HNL-OGG-LIH-PDX On AS, WP & HA
User currently offlineFlyingSicilian From Italy, joined Mar 2009, 1748 posts, RR: 1
Reply 11, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 7497 times:

Quoting heysfo (Reply 3):
TACA still has the only airline office left in SF , as a street level walk-in ticketing location
Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 6):
Does anyone know if the TACA office in Houston is still around?

IIRC it is on Bellaire Blvd (just east of City of Bellaire in Houston's gulfton area just before sharpstown surrounded by pupusa places and 10,000s of Salvadorans). Driven by it several times recently.

Qatar has one in Downtown Houston.
Emirates is on westheimer near Galleria in Houston.
Saudi Arabian has one in Houston (even though they only fly cargo to Houston)

Continental (RIP) had the one Downtown Houston in the HQs.
Aeromexico has one near IAH.
Air France did have a regional sales office in Houston, not sure if it is still there or downtown.
Volga-Dneipr has an office in the Woodlands

“Without seeing Sicily it is impossible to understand Italy.Sicily is the key of everything.”-Goethe "Journey to Italy"
User currently offlineklwright69 From Saudi Arabia, joined Jan 2000, 2483 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 7465 times:

At one time CO had 3 ticket offices in Denver. One on the 16th Street Mall, and 2 different ticket offices in the Denver Tech Center. Talk about relics of a bygone time.

User currently offlinegigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 79
Reply 13, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 7446 times:

Quoting heysfo (Reply 3):

ANA also has one.

Quoting klwright69 (Reply 12):

At one time CO had 3 ticket offices in Denver. One on the 16th Street Mall, and 2 different ticket offices in the Denver Tech Center. Talk about relics of a bygone time.

United had 6 that I can remember. There was one across from Cherry Creek Mall as well as one by the Brown Palace and another the escapes me on top of two near DTC and one in Jeffco.

Not to mention one in Colorado Springs.


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined exactly 8 years ago today! , 1189 posts, RR: 32
Reply 14, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 7162 times:

I am a massive fan of airline offices. For the most part in developed countries, they are obsolete (most have internet and know it is the cheapest way).

But they are excellent for publicity, and can be a good reflection on the airline. TK have an excellent office in Nairobi. Oh, that is another thing, in many cities they have the offices in very highbuildings...

So nip up, pick up the IF magazine (most stock this), a hard copy of the timetable (some have this) and enjoy the time.

Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently onlineBongodog1964 From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2006, 4284 posts, RR: 4
Reply 15, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 7136 times:

Whenever I have walked past the Iran Air office in Picadilly, it has always given the impression thatits been shut down since the revolution, Many shades of grey and a model of an early series 747 in the window.

User currently offlinezrs70 From United States of America, joined Dec 2000, 3514 posts, RR: 8
Reply 16, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 7043 times:

In the mid 80's, I would go to Boston/Logan once a month. Alternatively, mid-month I would go to the Park Plaza Hotel and the Statler Office Building in the Back Bay where most airlines had offices. In addition to the carriers serving Logan, many foreign carriers that didnt serve Logan had offices there. Always felt exotic. I would update my timetables and move on.

17 year airliners.net vet! 2000-2016
User currently offlineltbewr From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13838 posts, RR: 17
Reply 17, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 6989 times:

I recall the glory days of city ticket offices in NY City along or just off 5th Avenue and elsewhere in the city until they started to disappear in the 1990's and almost all gone by 2001. You had the displays of posters of destinations, aircraft models, signs posting fare deals. Many were quite elaborately decorated and finished to give an air of quality and to sell their airline and sometimes their home country. The existence of the UN headquarters in NY City was probably a key reason for these offices, but as NY was a key destination, many airlines wanted to put on the show with a city ticket office for publicity and pride.

I recall buying 'standby' tickets for flights from NY area airports from BA at 44th Street and 5th Ave, they, PA, TWA, others used to post the price that day for 'standby' tickets in their 5th Avenue stores. I recall buying in 1989 tickets from Qantas (next door to BA's offices). Along of just off 5th Avenue I recall the offices of Aeroflot, TWA, El Al, Japan, JAT, Pakistan, Pan Am and many others. The Pan Am building at 200 Park Avenue had a large office of course on 44th Street for PA. You also had ticket centers on 7th Ave at 40th Street (garment district), offices in the lobbies of 120 Broadway, the WTC towers (CO, others), near Grand Central Terminal a 2nd floor office for VS, UA and others. Air India, Tower and others on Park Avenue. bought or picked up paper tickets from some of those city offices. I recall in the 1990's buying VS tickets in their records stores in NYC and London.

One sad reason for the shutting down of storefront and other city offices was that some were targets of terror attacks with bombs placed in front of them as well as protests in front of them by unionized airline workers, political and human rights protesters. Of course, changes in how tickets were sold to, especially with the Internet, the use of agents, the need to make cuts in overhead costs as well still having the ability to buy tickets at the airports many them redundant.

From my recall, Swiss, Pakistan, AF and few others still had storefront/street offices in NY City. They probably continue them as may serve destinations in Africa, Asia or countries where a paper ticket may be necessary, a need for someone to speak other than English, or for corporate ego.

User currently offlineMats From Israel, joined Jul 2003, 656 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 19 hours ago) and read 6915 times:

Grupo TACA has kept ticket offices for a different reason: many of their passengers pay in cash, so they need a mechanism to sell tickets in person. Their office in San Francisco, for example, is in the Mission District, not a prestigious location in Union Square.

The Iran Air office in Paris still makes my jaw drop. There are still some others with chic locations there, but the Iran Air office on a corner is especially prestigious. Continental use to have a very swank office in the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro; I'm sure that office is long gone.

Delta used to have a nice upstairs office in a pretty old building in Microcentro in Buenos Aires, but I also imagine that this is also gone.

Tel Aviv is actually filled with city ticket offices for unusual carriers. Belavia, Air Moldova, among others. There is still the Beit El Al (in tragic disrepair), and there is a huge Turkish Airlines and Israir office on the other side of the street.

User currently offlineslvrblt From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 274 posts, RR: 1
Reply 19, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6849 times:

In Miami, American still has two: One is at the American Airlines Arena (home of the NBA champions Miami Heat!)
and the other is in Coral Gables, at MCLA sales HQ

..everything works out in the end.
User currently offlineelmothehobo From United States of America, joined Aug 2006, 1565 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6801 times:

There are still a handful in DC. ANA has a sales office up 16th Street, 2-3 blocks north of the White House, Qatar Airways has one on K Street and TACA has an office across the street from IMF and World Bank headquarters in Foggy Bottom (also 3-4 blocks from the White House).

User currently offlinenomadic From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 469 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 6743 times:

Back in the day, TWA had CTOs in all of their overseas destinations. IIRC the one in Paris was their largest and most elaborate. When travelers from the U.S. first started visiting Europe by air in large numbers in the 50s and 60s, the offices with the big red 'Trans World Airlines' sign were comforting reminders of home. Behind the counter there was always somone who could speak English. There were maps and guide books and sometimes even a day-old copy of the New York Times. These CTOs certainly sold a good quantity of tickets but they also serevd some of the same functions of an American Express office.

User currently offlineexFWAOONW From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 499 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5858 times:

Even lowly FWA rated a UA CTO until circa 1979.
They still exist because not every passenger has internet or a credit card.

When I worked many international tickets wouldn't price automatically what with all the stopovers and special fees at different locations, etc and required a lot of time and had to be manually entered before printing (by hand or computer).

Is just me, or is flying not as much fun anymore?
User currently offlinegoosebayguy From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2009, 538 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5668 times:

I recently walked past the offices along Green Park in London and the aircraft models in Iran Airs office were ancient! All looked very tired too! However it is a shame that so many have been lost over the years with their large metal models and promises of far off exotic places!

User currently offlineHBGDS From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (3 years 9 months 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5646 times:

I can offer experience from Geneva, where I grew up. It used to be fun to "tour" the offices expecially along a couple of main arteries spanning from the train station down to lake Geneva. AIrlines were loaded with postcards, posters, and if you were lucky or a pain or both, you might "score" an airline pennant... Aeroflot was famous for handing out pins. Qantas had little, but the posters were great. Etc...

When airlines were flag carriers, this was a kind of "prestige" issue, but also the only way to sell the "product" in question. It was also the only way to get real-time info about ticket availability (you could try it over the phone, but airlines often doubled as travel offices for some of the countries they served, which is why you wanted to go in prson to help book your trip).

From the mid 90s onward, I watched all these offices close or relocate to the airport (i.e. consolidate), because all business was done on the internet or by phone, or through travel operators. The only airlines left are mostly from the Middle East. It is both a cultural issue and one of technology: Travellers prefer to deal with a living person, and the internet is not as widespread (for reservations, that is-- tweets are a different issue). You still see some of the old neon adverts on building (Kuwait Airways). It's also the case in France and Germany, but I'm sure "locals" can speak to this better than I can.

As for the US where I now live, same deal: close down everything except for a couple of major offices, because it is cheaper, and more efficient. SIgh... Now Igotta battle on eBay to get a postcard, or hope for a nice airline convention not too far from home!

25 mattdell : I always wonder why Air Malta has an office near my house in Putney (a borough on the cusp of suburbia in London).
26 jsnww81 : CTOs were the *best* for timetables (still are in some cities). Up until the late 2000s, Frankfurt was the best city for timetables on earth. You coul
27 theginge : Some airlines will have offices in City Centres so that they are near to their corporate customers.
28 Super80DFW : American Airlines has a ticket office in central Santiago on a pedestrian only street named Huerfanos. Myself and fellow a.netter mhkansan visited SCL
29 ramprat74 : We had our City Manager, and Sales office at the 6th street location. We also had CTO's at Mall 205, and Washington Sq.
30 VC10DC10 : Ethiopian Airlines has a ticket office on -- I think -- Duke Street in Alexandria, VA (in Old Town). I have heard that one reason for airlines to cont
31 1stfl94 : Went past the Syrianair office in London at the weekend, the office is deserted but I was very tempted to grab the 747SP model they have in the window
32 ju068 : Don't they have an office in Washington DC, right across the IMF? In Nicosia we have so many different airlines, Bulgaria Air, Emirates, Jat Airways,
33 skycub : Ironically enough, and correct me if I am mistaken, but did not a bunch of US carriers have city ticket offices located INSIDE the World Trade Center
34 SmithAir747 : I'm from Fort Wayne (FWA); where was this UA CTO located? SmithAir747
35 N62NA : And sadly both the ticket office you described as well as the real Trader Vic's are no longer at the Beverly Hilton.
36 EIDL : Prior to going bust, MA had a sales office in my medium sized suburb - a street level office in a shopping centre. Quite some distance from the city c
37 flightsimboy : Why wouldn't they? Who wants to a travel to a surburb to book a ticket or make a reservation. Etihad had an office uptown, but are now in the heart of
38 Maverick623 : Correct. The CTO closed 2 or 3 years ago. The office still exists as an employee travel center, but that too will likely close once ZED fares go full
39 Viscount724 : Carriers that still maintain CTOs are often carriers for which profitability doesn't seem a very high priority. For example, in GVA Qatar Airways is
40 ltbewr : I recall that Continental and other airlines had CTO's or actually counters in the lobby of one of the towers, I suspect they got cut way back after
41 skycub : Out of curiosity, I wanted to see.... So I checked some random timetables from after the initial 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center..... American
42 nyc2tlv : I think sometimes you can't tell whether the office is the actual airline or just signage for a GSA. For instance, in TLV there are tons of offices do
43 CODC10 : United is down to two, both of which are former CO offices. The first is at NY Penn Station on the 8th Avenue concourse near the Amtrak counters, clos
44 exFWAOONW : It was in the Berry St lobby of the FWA National Bank Bldg. I was very young then, but I remember meeting my dad for lunch when he got to work it one
45 VC10DC10 : I sure do! When I was a kid, walking past it, I always wanted to go in and collect some timetables, but my parents had "real" shopping to do.
46 tommy767 : AA had quite a few back in the day. They used to have one in Paramus, NJ of all places.
47 STT757 : CO had one near me in Freehold, they also had them in the former Continental airlines arena.
48 goosebayguy : If you look at Saudi Arabia where they quite literally have only had the internet for 9 years then I guess airline offices remain vital to Saudia?
49 Post contains links Senchingo : Excuse me for not reading all posts above me, but i can at least tell you from personal experience about two cases: CX actually has two city offices i
50 Post contains images N62NA : Well, that was when they used to serve EWR.
51 JohnJ : I did a college internship in Washington, DC back in 1986, staying in a dorm at American University. Back then, it seemed just about every major airli
52 JohnJ : And growing up in Memphis, who could forget the American and Northwest offices in the Peabody Hotel? Northwest also had one in the Crescent Center in
53 VS11 : American Airlines still has one in NYC - on Lexington Ave at 40th str, very close to Grand Central. It is not large but it is there - I was actually p
54 RWA380 : Yep, the Washington Sq office in the annexed building to the mall, just off Greenburg, and as well as Mall 205, I totally forgot. Wasn't there a UA o
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