Western Union and Continental Airlines Introduce New Payment OptionDate: Monday, January 5, 2004
DENVER, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Western Union Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC - News) has made it easier for Continental Airlines (NYSE: CAL - News) travelers to pay for their airfare using cash instead of credit cards. Starting immediately, Continental Airlines' customers traveling in the domestic U.S. and Canada can make use of a new, easy-to-use cash payment alternative when using continental.com to book flights online.
The collaborative service offering, provided by Western Union and Continental Airlines, will broaden consumer payment options and convenience for those who choose to send cash payments. Cash payment options allow consumers to send their payment for electronic airline tickets at any of nearly 45,000 Western Union Agent locations nationwide after reserving a ticket online. Many Western Union locations are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Although electronic payments continue to increase in all industries, more than a quarter of Americans still prefer to pay for products and services in cash, either out of choice or necessity," said Christina Gold, president, Western Union Financial Services. "By providing travelers a cash payment alternative, we are offering convenient options for consumers, while providing guaranteed funds for the airlines without adding to their costs."
Thirty-two percent of Americans prefer to pay for their purchases with cash(i), and 23 million American households do not have credit cards(ii) -- demonstrating the potential impact for airlines to tap this cash-based audience. Also, while up to 40 percent of requests for remote credit card authorizations for purchases are rejected, 45 percent of customers with credit cards are within five percent of their credit limit(iii). Thus, as consumers continue to purchase more airline tickets online, and the airline industry continues to streamline costs by closing city ticket offices, there is a real need for this type of payment service.
"This cash payment program is yet another example of our relentless commitment to customer satisfaction," said Jim Compton, senior vice president marketing, Continental Airlines. "We are continuously looking for new and innovative ways to make it easy for our customers to book and fly with Continental, and this new cash payment service with Western Union will do just that."
How it works:
- When travelers book a flight on Continental they can then choose to send a cash payment for their reservation, instead of using a credit card.
- After the flight is booked, consumers will be given a confirmation number to take to a Western Union Agent location. Tickets must be paid for in full, within 24 hours, to guarantee the reservation.
- At the Western Union Agent location, consumers fill out a "Blue Quick Collect" form and give it to the Agent clerk along with their cash payment and a nominal service fee.
- The Western Union Agent sends the payment to Continental Airlines and verifies the transaction through Continental's reservation system within minutes.
- Customers receive a detailed Western Union receipt and confirmation number as proof that the payment was sent to Continental Airlines for their electronic ticket.
- On the date of departure, customers can obtain their boarding pass from any Continental Airlines eService Center kiosks, or by using its Check-in feature on www.continental.com anytime between one hour to 30 hours in advance of the flight departure.
About Western Union Financial Services, Inc. and First Data
Western Union Financial Services, Inc., a subsidiary of First Data Corp. (NYSE: FDC - News), is an international leader in consumer money transfer services. Consumers can quickly and reliably pay bills and transfer money around the globe using the company's proprietary money transfer network. Western Union and its subsidiary, Orlandi Valuta, together make up one of the world's largest money transfer networks with approximately 169,000 Agent locations in more than 195 countries and territories. Famous for its pioneering telegraph service, the original Western Union dates back to 1851 and introduced electronic money transfer service in 1871. For more information, please visit the company's Web site at www.westernunion.com .
First Data Corp., with global headquarters in Denver, helps power the global economy. Serving approximately 3 million merchant locations, 1,400 card issuers and millions of consumers, First Data makes it easy, fast and secure for people and businesses to buy goods and services, using virtually any form of payment: credit, debit, smart card, stored-value card or check at the point-of-sale, over the Internet or by money transfer. For more information, please visit the company's Web site at www.firstdata.com .
About Continental Airlines
Continental Airlines is the world's seventh-largest airline and has more than 2,200 daily departures. With 127 domestic and 96 international destinations, Continental has extensive service throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. Continental has hubs serving New York, Houston, Cleveland and Guam, and carries approximately 41 million passengers per year. With 42,000 mainline employees, Continental is one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For in America. In 2003, Fortune ranked Continental highest among major U.S. carriers in the quality of its service and products, and No. 2 on its list of Most Admired Global Airlines. For more company information, visit continental.com.
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