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Executive Travel : Business Travel Notes

<i> Times Wire Services</i>

Hand-Held Ticket Counters? American Airlines plans to deploy wireless devices in its hub airports and other major cities this year that will allow ticket agents to wander along lines and thus cut passenger waiting times, officials said Wednesday.

American has been testing the system in Dallas and Miami over the past year and now plans to roll it out in New York, Chicago, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Raleigh, N.C., and Nashville, said Debbie Weathers of Sabre Group, the technology unit of American’s parent company, AMR Corp.

The wireless units allow ticket agents to move out into lines of customers and travel to remote locations such as hotels and cruise ship docks to handle travel arrangements for large groups of people, Weathers said.

Under a deal announced Wednesday, data transmission will be handled by the Wireless Data division of AT&T; Corp.'s McCaw Cellular Communications Inc., based in Kirkland, Wash. The data will be transmitted using a standard known as cellular digital packet data, developed by McCaw and other cellular providers.

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Southwest Expands Ticketless Travel: Southwest Airlines Co. will offer ticketless travel on all its routes beginning Jan. 31, making it the nation’s first major airline to embark on a systemwide paper-free ticketing system.

A Southwest Airlines spokesman said the carrier will offer the option for travel to all 45 airports it serves. The airline said it is pleased with a ticketless test in Texas and California.

The ticketless system issues confirmation numbers to passengers, who present the numbers at boarding gates. A gate agent then gives the passenger a boarding pass. Other airlines are testing such systems.

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Denver’s Baggage System Passes Test: After months of problems, Denver International Airport’s computerized baggage system appears to be working properly, city officials said. A high-tech system installed by BAE Automated Systems Inc. and a more conventional conveyor belt technology system installed by Rapistan DeMag Corp. now “talk” to each other when problems are introduced, a key step in allowing the airport to open after repeated delays and postponements.

Meanwhile, airport officials and airline representatives staged another round of talks aimed at appeasing carriers who would be using the conventional Rapistan system on Concourse C. The high-tech system will initially serve only United Airlines. At issue is whether the carriers are willing to pay airport fees to move to gates in Concourse A, which was abandoned by Continental Airlines when it cut its plans for service from the airport.

The airport is now expected to open about March 1.

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Continental Trims Flights: Continental Airlines Inc. said it reduced its average daily departures to 2,115 from 2,283 as part of a previously announced plan to cut costs and capacity. A Continental spokeswoman said most of the flight cuts were made Tuesday in the eastern United States.

The reductions involve Continental, the Continental Lite no-frills, short-haul service and the Continental Express commuter service. Routes eliminated by Continental include Philadelphia to Jacksonville, Fla., and Continental Lite’s Orlando, Fla.-to-Miami and Cleveland-to-Providence, R.I. routes.


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