American Stops Honoring Paper Tickets (Yes, They Still Exist)

by Michèle McDonald

American Airlines stopped accepting paper tickets on Nov. 1 and warned that any travel for which paper tickets were issued would be canceled, requiring travelers to purchase new tickets.

The change applies to all American and American Eagle segments regardless of the validating or issuing carrier.

Paper MCOs are still allowed.

It’s about time
A spokesman for the carrier said that “the usage of paper tickets has shrunk to such a small number that American decided that it was time to align its policies with its joint business partners and reduce the cost and complexity caused by paper tickets.”

American is the second U.S. airline and the 11th airline worldwide to stop accepting paper tickets. They include: Qatar, British Airways, Vueling, Copa, Singapore, Silk, Insel, Frontier, Emirates and Iberia.

British Airways and Iberia are joint business partners of American.

Saudi Arabian Airlines will stop accepting paper tickets on Dec. 1, and SAS, Blue 1 and Thai will stop next summer.

Way past deadline
An industry-initiative to move to 100% e-ticketing was spearheaded by IATA years ago. But even after the June 1, 2008, deadline passed, a handful of airlines did not make the transition. Some were very small and lacked the technical resources; others either did not interline or did it so rarely that it was not an issue.

In the U.S., ARC continued to allow paper tickets, primarily because Amtrak continued to use them. This past summer, electronic tickets became available on all rail services, but they are not yet available through the travel trade and Amtrak does not have interline capability at this point.

GDS companies in the U.S. continue to allow paper ticket issuance because ARC allows it. Airlines, however, are free to file fares that no longer allow a paper ticket to be driven.

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