"Interline e-ticketing is still the exception rather than the rule, so as soon as you want to ticket a journey with more than one carrier you have to issue paper. This is just another classic airline con to make more money."
Continental Airlines to eliminate paper tickets
Wednesday, April 7, 2004 Posted: 3:59 PM
EDT (1959 GMT)
YORK (Reuters) -- Continental Airlines Inc. said Wednesday it will eliminate paper tickets by the end of this year in an effort to cut costs, theft and paperwork.
The move includes tickets for international travel and those that involve other carriers. Continental said it has terminated 50 interline ticketing and baggage agreements with carriers that do not have electronic ticketing capabilities.
The company said it has considered moving to a paperless system for more than five years and decided to make the change when it realized that 95 percent of its domestic customers and 88 percent systemwide use electronic tickets.
"We now see the point at the end of the road where paper can be eliminated," company spokesman David Messing said.
Messing did not have estimates on how much the company would save, though he said most savings would come in the "back office," where tickets are sorted, handled and saved. Records will now be kept as computer files, he said.
Customers will still be able to make reservations through travel agents or on the phone, as well as on the Internet, but they will not receive paper tickets. Instead, the reservations will be stored electronically.
Passengers who check in either via their computers at home or at airport kiosks will still receive the paper boarding passes that allow them to board planes.
Under the old system, passengers would exchange paper tickets for boarding passes.
Other airlines said they had mostly, if not entirely, cut out paper tickets.
"We will only issue paper ticket if requested by a customer, and that's a $20 charge," said a representative from United Airlines parent UAL Corp. United currently does not have plans to eliminate paper tickets entirely, the representative said.
AMR Corp.'s American Airlines told Reuters it will also be completely paperless by the end of the year.
"However, we will not cut off partnerships if they don't have the technology in place," a representative said. "We're not going to be authoritarian."
An America West Holdings Corp. representative said 96 percent of the company's ticketing was electronic.
Delta Air Lines Inc. said it had eliminated paper tickets in May 2002, though it will issue paper tickets on request for $10.
Continental shares were down 35 cents, or 2.6 percent, at $13.31 in late-afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
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