Air travel: Online booking has arrived

It's "virtually" confirmed! A recent Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) survey shows that 43 per cent of low cost carrier (LCC) passengers buy their tickets over the internet. For those who thought internet penetration in India was 'low', think again. At least in certain sections, like the urban middle and upper-middle class, that is not the case.

In fact, the trend is in line with what's happening round the world. E-ticketing has picked up because booking on the net is cheaper than at travel agencies, apart from the comfort of using credit cards on the internet.

The advent of online travel portals like Cleartrip, Indiatimes Travel, Makemytrip and Yatra among others, has created a choice of different fares that are available. The ease of comparing prices is also fuelling the online booking habit.

Most LCCs do all their booking on the net, as it saves huge costs, which they can pass on to the consumer. The cost of offline ticketing works out to $7 to $8 per passenger, while it is less than $2 per passenger when sold online. Around 30 to 35 per cent of Spicejet tickets are sold on their website and online travel portals, 15 to 20 per cent through airport counters and 40 to 50 per cent via travel agents.

The CAPA study also indicates that Internet sales by full service carrier (FSC) travellers stands at 21 per cent, 22 per cent less than LCC. Close to 61 per cent of FSC passengers prefer to book their tickets through travel agents. However, another important reason for this is the credit facility offered by travel agents.