(26/10/22)  ATPCO has donated its historic collection of 1,588 volumes of bound fare, rule and route books to the Library of Congress, one of the world’s largest libraries.

The collection will enable future generations to see how flights were sold, ticketed and distributed from the 1940s until the dawn of the internet age.

Since 1965 ATPCO, formally known as the Airline Tariff Publishing Company, has collected and distributed the world’s fare and fare-related data to the global ecosystem so travel agents, airlines, GDS and sales channels can sell airline tickets to the public.

Before the digital age, such fares, rules and routes were published and printed at ATPCO and distributed around the world in large bound books.

Matching an air ticket from 1955. Click to enlarge.

Matching an air ticket from 1955

This large collection contains tariffs and rules for cargo, military, passenger and joint passenger travel for domestic, international and regional travel up to as late as 2004.

This important record of the evolution of air passenger travel, through the lens of fares and tariffs, will be a significant addition to the Library’s Science, Technology & Business Division.

The library is now processing and cataloging the collection and once that work is complete, members of the public will be able to request volumes through the library’s online catalog and view the materials in the Science & Business Reading Room.

“The entire ATPCO company and I are so proud to have donated a piece of aviation history to such a respected institution as the Library of Congress. Knowing that it will live on for years to come and be available to the public to view is an exhilarating thing for us ‘Aviation Geeks’,” said ATPCO’s President and CEO, Alex Zoghlin. “It’s a little crazy to think how much has changed since the 1990s in the way the whole travel industry does business. The old way of printing and shipping fare books around the world that were valid for months at a time seems so archaic by today’s standard, where a digital fare can be updated hourly online. We are so happy this part of history is curated by the Library of Congress.”

Before online booking websites enabled consumers to compare and purchase tickets directly on the internet, airlines would give their flight and fare data to ATPCO, which became the go-to clearinghouse in the travel industry.

This is the first time that the public will have access to the company’s tariff books. Researchers, aviation and aeronautics historians, educators and academics, students and anyone interested in accessing the collection will be able to access this information to gain further knowledge of the commercial air travel industry.

“This collection provides an enormous amount of data that can be used by researchers to examine the airline industry during the 20th century. This unique collection complements other materials on aeronautics held at the Library of Congress, so I’m excited that these volumes have become part of the library’s permanent collection,” said Natalie Burclaff, section head of business reference in the Library’s Science, Technology & Business Division.

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