Confusion among air travellers over e-tickets

S. Anil Radhakrishnan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Weeks after airlines did a total shift from paper tickets to e-tickets, confusion prevails among hundreds of travellers in the State. Many of them feel that flying has become cumbersome.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) had asked airlines the world over to go for the mandatory shift from June. e-tickets have a number of advantages and have helped airline companies save around Rs. 40 crore in this short period.

But it has made air travel complicated, even regular flyers complain. Booking tickets have become cumbersome and dearer for those travelling to multiple destinations, they say.

e-ticketing was introduced without creating awareness of it among passengers and properly training the travel agents, it is alleged.

With e-tickets, one can check in at the airline counters at the airport by giving the PNR number. But the itinerary receipt and a photo identity card are required to enter the airport terminal for security reasons.

Couple taken aback

A retired government official, K. Sreekantan Nair, and his wife, B. Sumangala Devi, were taken aback when the staff of an airline at the international airport here asked for an attested photocopy of their son’s credit card using which he had booked the ticket for them to fly to Mumbai and an authorisation letter from him.

“It was not possible to contact him,” they said.

“We were shocked, as there was hardly any time for the departure of the flight. Following the intervention of the airline officials, we could board the flight. We were in the dark about the new formalities.”

Security alert

In another instance, a relative of a passenger managed to enter the Nedumbaserry airport with a second printout of the itinerary receipt to see him off. This put the security officials on alert.

Apart from reducing costs and eliminating paper-ticket fraud, e-tickets enhance check-in options; eliminate the problem of tickets getting lost or stolen and the need for prepaid tickets; and plug revenue leakage.

e-tickets have a database to track the sale and use of tickets. The database is stored and updated by the validating airline. Subsequent transactions, including refunds, exchanges, check-in and settlement, involve this database. IATA says 97 per cent of the ticketing in the country is done electronically.

The Air India network is e-ticket enabled. The airports on this network are e-enabled and can check in e-ticket holders.

Biji Eapen, president of IATA Agents Association of India, told The Hindu that e-tickets had come as a big boon for the travellers. The procedures were flexible for travel agents and tickets could be issued to 16 international sectors without any problem.

Mr. Eapen said it would take some more time for e-tickets to get acceptance in the domestic sector. Confusion prevails on ‘carriage of contract’ and it had to be sorted out. There were no clear ideas on rules of hand baggage and what could be carried. Although air travel had become cheap, travellers had not matured.

Keep in mind

• Form of identification (FOID), or identity card, is important as e-tickets have become the order of the day. On international sectors, passport is the ideal identity card. The photo identity card given as FOID at the time of ticketing should be carried during travel within India.

• When a family travels, the ID card of parents is sufficient for the children. When children travel alone, a photo identity card from the educational institution is needed.

• The travellers are asked to give the mobile phone and landline numbers during ticketing. Travel agents say this will help the airline inform you of any change in the schedule.

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