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Airlines may add fee for non-Web tickets

While the trend toward purchasing airline tickets through Web sites is growing, it currently represents only about 1% of total tickets sold.

To cut costs and increase the number of Web bookings, several airlines are turning to a "carrot and stick" approach. They plan to offer 500 to 1,000 bonus frequent-flyer miles for every round-trip ticket bought via a Web site.

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Some even throw in another 500 miles if you make that an e-ticket (that is, one that generates no paper until you're handed your electronically reserved boarding pass at the gate).

On the "stick" side, however, is an alarming move by the airlines to charge fees for tickets not booked via their Web sites.

In January, Delta attempted to charge $1 for each domestic segment - each leg of a trip - on every ticket not booked on their Web site. This tactic fell fast in the face of fierce opposition.

That $1 per segment doesn't seem like much. But millions of tickets are purchased by people who do not have access to the Web.

Tip: When booking a trip, compare the fare by telephoning the reservations number and also checking the Web site. Be aware of hidden fees.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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