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American, British Airways, Delta, Singapore Airlines, and more than 60 other airlines will adopt on June 7 a process for re-issuing tickets that will make it easier for them to override existing fare rules and waive change fees. The new industry-wide automated solution will help address nonrefundable tickets travelers bought before the crisis but that travelers now want to voluntarily change.
The so-called “emergency flexibility” effort is led by ATPCO, the airline-owned fare clearinghouse and tech provider that is formerly known as the Airline Tariff Publishing Company.
“If you’re a traveler with a non-refundable, non-changeable ticket in hand, you can now make a voluntary change with it,” said Thomas Gregorson, chief strategy officer at ATPCO. “For example, if you bought a ticket in December before the pandemic hit, and now, due to various reasons, you no longer want to take that trip, airlines can override the ticket restrictions with this automated solution. This situation is different from when an airline cancels a flight, which has a different process.”
Airlines had up to $35 billion worth of tickets that consumers might want to reschedule as of late March, according to an estimate by the International Air Transport Association.
Airlines have always done temporary waivers, which are a manual process done with a carrier, such as for a localized response to a tropical storm disrupting flights and resorts. The new ticket re-issuing process offers a global policy covering hundreds of thousands of tickets available to hundreds of thousands of travel agencies regardless of how an airline files their fares.
“In these exceptional circumstances, there has been an increasing need for a consistent approach to ticketing changes for all players and across different channels,” said Hervé Prezet, vice president of industry and expertise at Amadeus, one of the travel tech companies helping to put support the new workflow.