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American Charges Fee for Paper Tickets

April 15, 2001

American Airlines last week began charging $10 extra for paper tickets, as opposed to paperless electronic tickets. It was the second major U.S. airline to do so, following Alaska Airlines, which began a similar charge in 1999. Other airlines said they were studying American's move.

American said the fee applies to tickets purchased through American reservations agents, its Web site and travel centers, and at airports. Passengers who pay full fare, purchase through travel agents or belong to American's Executive Platinum club don't pay the fee.

The company made the announcement on the same day that it acquired bankrupt Trans World Airlines, making American the country's No. 1 carrier.

Industry analysts said the charge for paper tickets was a logical move in view of rising labor and fuel costs.

But Terry Trippler, an air fare expert affiliated with OneTravel.com, said, "I think this is carrying cost savings a little too far." He also cited American's "bad timing," given the airlines' looming labor problems. He said he advises clients to get paper tickets because they make it easier to rebook on another airline if flights are canceled.

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