Consumers should get ready for a form of e-ticketing for airline bag fees, wi-fi service, lounge access and other ancillary services in 2010.
Travel industry tech folks, including ARC and Farelogix, say they are readying the behind-the-scenes technology that will enable consumers to purchase and print [or otherwise receive] coupons or electronic receipts for purchases of an array of add-on services.
It might work in a similar manner to the way consumers print -- or opt to receive electronically -- boarding passes for flight e-tickets.
At a meeting in Miami today, Dec. 9, about Farelogix's rollout of its SPRK distribution and point of sale tool, Mike Premo, ARC's vice president of marketing, sales and customer relations, says ARC will be transmitting Electronic Miscellaneous Documents (EMDs) for ancillary services through SPRK beginning in February.
What does this mean?
Consumers who book a bag fee or sign up before their flight for Internet access etc. through a travel agency or airline that's hooked up to SPRK, will come to the airport armed with an e-ticket or coupon proving that they have pre-purchased the service.
This will change the way you do online pre-check-ins for flights. You won't be just printing boarding passes, but may be printing other coupons as well for ancillary services, or perhaps everything will be consolidated into the boarding pass.
Other travel agencies which don't use SPRK will get the capability to provide these services in advance, too, because ARC will begin offering EMDs for optional services through agencies' global distributions beginning in the third quarter of 2010 and through the rest of that year, Premo says.
A remaining question is, however, how much of these ancillary service options will airlines want to make available to travel agencies, and to what extent will airlines want to keep this stuff exclusively on their own websites.
At any rate, the way consumers book a flight with all its add-ons will begin to change dramatically in 2010.
[Disclosure: This reporting was gathered on a press trip, with lodging and air paid by Farelogix.]