By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com
November 2012 | We have reported earlier how airlines in emerging economies have been introducing innovative services aimed at the rapidly growing middle class in the BRIC and Next-11 countries. Many of these consumers, often novice fliers, do not own credit cards or even have a bank account.
In Brazil, TAM sells tickets via low-end retail chain Casas Bahia and at high-traffic locations such as subway stations and bus stations. The airline also provides ‘how to fly’ advice to first-time fliers at its sales kiosks. TAM, Gol and Azul also allow customers to pay for their ticket in multiple installments.
In East Africa, airlines such as Kenya Airways and Uganda Airlines have teamed up with mobile payment services M-PESA and Airtel Money to allow people without a bank account to purchase air tickets via sms. Qatar Airways, meanwhile, offers passengers in twelve countries across Africa the option to book their ticket online and pay for it using cash within 48 hours at a Qatar Airways reservation or airport office.
Philippine Airlines ‘Reserve and Hold’
In the Philippines, passengers who book a ticket online for a domestic flight with Philippine Airlines (PAL), and its low-cost subsidiary AirPhil Express, can now pay for their ticket using cash at over 750 7-Eleven retail outlets nationwide which are open 24/7.
The new scheme is designed for the large number of consumers in the Philippines who do not own a credit card and PAL says it wants to offer them the convenience to do their bookings online at home, office, internet cafe or via their mobile phone and then go the nearest 7-Eleven outlet in their neighborhood to make the payment.
How PAL’s ‘reserve and hold’ service works: A passenger books a flight (at least 48 hours before departure) through the Philippine Airlines website. Once the booking is confirmed, the passenger selects the ‘Reserve and Hold’ option on the booking summary page, enters his or her personal details and prints out the booking confirmation email.
Within 24 hours, the passenger should go to the nearest 7-Eleven retail outlet, present the booking confirmation to the 7-Eleven cashier and pay the corresponding amount in cash. The itinerary receipt (e-ticket) and official receipt will then be sent to the passenger’s email address. The online booking/offline payment service is provided by Philippine payment service provider E.C.Pay and only payments for flight bookings done online are accepted.
Besides the new 7-Eleven partnership, passengers booking a flight with PAL and Airphil Express can also pay for their ticket in a similar way at F&B outlets located in Petron gas stations in the metropolitan area of Manila. PAL says the airline is planning to further expand its ‘reserve and hold’ service to more than 3,000 outlets nationwide in coordination with E.C.Pay in order to provide customers with a hassle-free alternative to ticket offices and travel agencies as the only locations to purchase a ticket for those without a credit card.