Sunday, November 09, 2014
I confess I have never enjoyed doing air ticketing when I was working for KLM in the 80s due to its complex rules and regulations that one has to remember. Like it or not, we have to know some ticketing knowledge being part and parcel of our job. We have to know whether a ticket issued by another another carrier can be endorsed to another carrier or accepted by us. Some tickets were simple. It was point to point, easy to read - no sweat. However, some tickets were all over the places and involving few carriers and in different classes of travel. Unlike now, we use e-tickets but prior to proliferation of the Internet, only properly issued airline tickets can be accepted. Each flight coupon had to be issued and uplifted at point of departure. If we do not understand some ticketing rules, we will find ourselves 'stranded'. And if we accepted the wrong ticket, we will be held liable.
Our airline has already already built up a reputation for its well established training centre in Holland. We even trained other airline personnel including SIA. When I first joined the airline, I was first given correspondence course on passenger handling and basis ticketing. After passing the assessment, we were then sent to Holland for further training. I have had two training stints in Holland during my 5-year with KLM. One of it was the air ticketing course. One has to have fairly good knowledge in Geography if one hopes to do well in the course. Imagine, if one cannot find Singapore on the world map, how do you expect that person to cope well? I was not that bad in Geography, fortunately for me.
During the course, we were not allowed to use computer to auto-quote the fare for us. Yes, computers in the 80s were already quite up to scratch where airfares can be automatically worked out at the press of the button. In the course, we had to rely on this thick book called the ABC book. The book listed the flight schedule of all airlines in the world, the published fares and the mileage of from one point to another. One can imagine the thickness of the book which (if I remember correctly) came in two parts. I did struggle I remember. I do not issue air ticket in the course of my job. I handled passengers at the airport. My course mates were mostly ticketing staff from other part of the world and they had no problem at all.
There were so many ticketing rules one had to remember then. The unit used for fare calculation was called FCU (fare calculation unit, I think) but some years later, it was switched to NUC (neutral unit of calculation, I think so too). We used to say, "Never Use Condom". When we issued a ticket that involved multiple destinations, we had to remember to apply some rules. It is not so straight forward applying destination A, then add destination B, C and so on. The fare from destination A via B, C to D can be cheaper than A to B, thus apply the latter fare. This is called the HIF (higher intermediate fare) and if one missed this check, it means short collection. We had to flip through our voluminous ABC book, checked the TPM (ticketing point of mileage) for each destination and then cross-checked the MPM (maximum point of mileage to ensure everything was kept within allowed mileage. We also had to do a CTM (circle trip something, I cannot recall exactly now) before we can be sure it was the right fare applied. Attending air ticketing course with so many rules to remember then was akin to aspiring surgeons undergoing specialist training. Ask a surgeon to issue air ticket then and surely, that surgeon will be baffled. Not any Tom, Dick or Harry can just issue an air ticket. Only ticketing professional can do the job. It is a specialised job too (in jest). However, the same cannot be said now. Even a 10-year old child can book an air seat and issue own ticket now with permission from the parents, of course. It is no longer complex when your computer can just do the rest for you. I am no longer with the airline and no longer involved in issuance of air tickets. Welcome to the Internet world!