Emirates e-ticketing reaches 44 destinations

The airline plans to extend its e-services even further through more global distribution systems and interline partnerships.

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By  Angela Prasad Published  December 5, 2004

|~||~||~|Point, click, purchase. Frequent fliers and other air travellers have long enjoyed the convenience that comes with buying airline tickets online.

Thanks to Emirates, they can finally enjoy the same expedient service when it comes to airline ticket dispersement. When Emirates launched its e-ticketing facilities four months ago, it became the first airline in the Arab world to provide customers with the electronic convenience.

It has now started offering e-ticketing on flights of certain airline partners. These partners include Continental Airlines, United Airlines, British Airways, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines.

The alliance makes it possible for Emirates’ customers to travel from New York or London, for example, to destinations in the US with Continental — with one single ticket. Jetlagged passengers on long international flights avoid the hassle of recollecting their luggage and shuffling it to yet another check-in counter.

“We have kept our promise of providing e-ticketing to our customers worldwide. E-ticketing offers Emirates’ passengers a host of benefits relating to speed of check-in, ease of use, practicality, as well as the fact that a passenger can’t lose an e-ticket as his or her booking is registered on the airline’s computer reservation system.

Emirates recognised these benefits for its customers and wanted to allow them to take advantage of this system,” says Baba Yerra, industry tariffs manager at Emirates.

Indeed, these “lose-proof” e-tickets, which are virtual versions of traditional paper flight tickets, offer passengers reassurance and peace of mind. With details of the passenger’s itinerary stored safely in the Emirates’ reservation system, travellers can spend more time pondering their next destination and less time agonising over lost documents.

E-tickets also mean an end to long painful cues at an airline counter; passengers may go for a self-service option, thereby expediting their check-in process. And the days of holding on to ticket stubs are over as well — with online records, unused coupons are not needed for refunds.

“The response from the travelling public has been extremely positive. The customers are able to see the convenience and benefits of e-ticketing and are becoming more and more comfortable with the system and appreciate the obvious benefits to them,” says Yerra.

Furthermore, since customer convenience is never far from Emirates’ mind, the airline has also sought ways to broaden accessibility beyond its current distributing systems, Galileo and Apollo.

Emirates has expanded its e-ticketing network by offering the service through travel agents such as Sabre, WorldSpan and Amadeus. As Sabre and WorldSpan are already Emirates’ ticket issuers, they were an obvious means of increasing accessibility, according to Yerra.

Emirates operates six major call centres located at Dubai, New York, Manchester, Karachi, Bombay and Melbourne. In addition, there are 56 reservation and ticketing offices at Emirates destinations around the world.

While it is not difficult for airlines like Emirates to implement their own customer reservations systems (CRSs), or use a larger service provider, the ability of airlines to interline e-tickets with different carriers, thus enabling passengers to book a multitude of journey on a single website, is of paramount importance.

Emirates is linked to multi–continent reservations systems, otherwise known as global distribution systems (GDS). These are systems that re-sell the inventory that is typically stored on the airline’s CRSs. Connecting to the GDSs, including Sabre, Worldspan, Galilao and Amadeus, are travel agents who typically only connect to one system.

The information on the actual seats available is transmitted from the host system of Emirates to the distribution system from which the third party sales channels can view the latest updated inventory.

Mercator, the IT division of Emirates’ parent, The Emirates Group, provides e-ticketing through its Departure Control System (DCS) to all the 44 destinations.

The project, which took Emirates almost four years to complete, has started to pay off. The airline says although Middle East is an emerging market and e-commerce has not really taken off, its people are starting to realise the importance of online booking.

“The effort has been worth it because we have had a good response. Passengers are recognising the advantages of using e-tickets as opposed to traditional paper tickets and that has been a great return on investment (ROI) for Emirates,” says Yerra.

“The system was first tried and tested exclusively by Emirates’ staff and this took us about three years to develop. We spent a lot of time and resources on our IT infrastructure because so many different destinations around the globe were involved. We wanted the best system and we did not want any downtime. In an airline business, one cannot afford to have any outages. It then took a further one year before it was introduced commercially on the Trans-Tasman route. In May this year e-ticketing was rolled out to 26 cities and now it is available in 44,” he enthuses.

The near doubling of e-ticket compliant destinations has occurred in the face of numerous regulatory challenges, however. “Emirates e-Ticketing offering was developed internally by functional, business and technical teams,” Yerra notes.

“Regulatory requirements had to be met across Emirates’ network, staff and third-party handlers had to be trained, computer systems had to be set up and updated, and strict compliance with policies and procedures had to be ensured.”

Conveniently ordered online or through the airline’s call centre, e-tickets have made last minute travel hassle free. Additionally, bookings that permit reservation changes can be easily modified; e-tickets can be altered within the computer system, eliminating the need to reissue another paper ticket.

Some of the major e-ticket compliant destinations on Emirates’ network include Auckland, Bangkok, Bombay, Dubai, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Jeddah, Johannesburg, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Munich, Nairobi, New York, Osaka, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney.||**||

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