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booking flights before the internet a look back 24 04 2023 6

Booking Flights Before the Internet: A Look Back

Traveling used to be a complex and time consuming process before the internet took over. You wanted to fly to a city, you had to go through a lot of paperwork or contact a travel agent who would do all the legwork for you. In this article, we’ll answer the question, “How did you book flights before the internet?”

How did you book flights before the internet?

Before the internet, booking a flight was a much more complicated process than it is today. To book a flight, you would either have to go to a travel agent or an airline ticket office in a major city, where they had computers that accessed a mainframe-based reservation system. This system was known as an availability board, which attempted to account for all seats on upcoming flights. To book a reservation, the travel agent or ticket office would consult the availability board and use light bulbs to confirm the ticket availability.

The reservation process was labor intensive and required a lot of manual work. Travel agents did make a commission from flight reservations they coordinated, but they couldn’t physically complete the booking themselves. They had to contact the airlines to ask for the availability and then confirm the reservation.

The increase in air travel in the 80s and 90s necessitated the move to computerized reservation systems. Today, booking a flight is much easier—you log onto the internet, select the route, pay for the ticket, choose your seats, order a special meal, and even check in for your flight. All of this can be done from the comfort of your own home.


Booking flights before the internet was a much more complicated and time consuming process. You had to either go to a travel agent or an airline ticket office in a major city to book a reservation. If you wanted to find the best deals on airfare, you could go to Find Traveling Deals, where you can compare flights and find the best prices. Nowadays, you can do all of this from the comfort of your own home.

What method did people use to obtain airline tickets before computers were available?

Back then, airlines employed antiquated, manual procedures to access their flight information and make reservations over the phone. On average, it could take up to an hour or longer to complete a single booking.

In the 80s, what method did people use to purchase plane tickets?

If you wanted to get a ticket, you had to either contact the airline directly, go to their physical office, or contact a travel agent.

What methods were used to book flights in the 1970s?

You can head to the airport, but usually people who are traveling for leisure will visit a travel agent. In the past, some airlines even kept offices in cities, and larger companies may have even had their own agents, though usually it was someone like a secretary who would make the booking over the phone.

When did air carriers begin offering tickets for sale on the internet?

In the airline industry, E-tickets were introduced around 1994, and have since taken the place of the traditional paper ticketing systems.


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