Electronic Miscellaneous Documents (EMD) transactions in the US increased a whopping 376% in March, according to data collected by the Airlines Reporting Corp., the company that serves as the billing and settlement plan for US travel agents.
Agents processed nearly 159,000 EMD transactions in March vs. about 33,400 in March 2016.
The EMD is the technology used for the collection and settlement of optional services, such as extra legroom seats and checked bags, offered by an airline.
The dollar value of EMD sales rose 239%, to $9.3 million in March.
Use of the EMD in the US was slow to take off when it was introduced in 2010 – it took nearly a year for the first transaction to materialize – but with more airlines and GDSs working together to offer ancillary products through agency desktops, its use is growing rapidly.
ARC’s March data also showed that air fares in the US are creeping up: The average roundtrip ticket price was $498 in March, up from $487 in February and $464 in January.
Average ticket prices followed a similar pattern in the first quarter of 2016: $498 in March, $489 in February and $473 in January.
Overall, domestic air fares were up 4.92% in March, to $3.58 billion.
But the big leap came in international fares, which increased 11.53%.
Passengers were undeterred by the increases. ARC processed 17.2 million domestic trips in March, up 5.72% from March 2016. International trips were up 11.71%, to 9.3 million.
ARC processed a total of 26.5 million trips taken in March by US travelers, up 7.75%.
Agency sales in the US reached a total value of $8.8 billion in March, up 6.37% from the previous year.
As of March this year, there were 12,332 retail agency locations in the ARC system, with average daily sales of $20,344.