with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

More People are Booking Flights Online

In a news story from The News Tribute, more and more people are booking flights online than ever before as new confidence soars with Internet usage and credit card security.

When Mark Guerette and his information technology crew at Alaska Airlines saw the first online reservations trickle in over their servers 10 years ago today, they were practically giddy with accomplishment.

Just seven online reservations were made Dec. 28, 1995, and the week that followed, but Guerette and his team sensed they were on to something big…Those online transactions at Alaska were the first tickets sold by any airline via the Web. They ultimately foretold a revolution in the sales of airline tickets. That revolution has made huge changes in the travel industry and the way airlines price and sell tickets.

Today, Alaska and its sister airline, Horizon, sell 34.6 percent of their tickets via the airlines’ Web site, a far greater percentage than most of their competitors. An additional 11 percent of the airlines’ sales come via online travel sites such as Expedia.com, Travelocity and Orbitz.

That Internet sales channel has been a great benefit to consumers, who now can do instant comparison shopping for airline tickets, pick seats and print boarding passes from their homes. The electronic sales sites have played a major role in creating simpler fare choices and cutting costs for airlines engaged in dogfights for financial survival.

The Internet sales sites also are the force behind the near demise of paper tickets and the security problems and handling costs that accompany them.

I’ve been ordering air flight tickets online for many years. Do you? I find that the process has gotten easier for booking and finding cheap flights, but too many online tickets have tons of rules and regulations and it isn’t easy to change your ticket if that dreaded something happens. And most airlines are now charging extra fees for handling tickets on the telephone, encouraging people to use the Internet more.

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