en years ago, only 16 million people had any experience using the Internet. Today, more than 400 million passengers book online; e-ticketing saves the industry US$2 billion a year, and paper tickets are set to disappear by 2007.

Direct booking saves airlines another $1.2 billion a year in flight reservation fees with the Global Distribution Systems. Full-service carriers sell more than a third of their tickets online -- low-cost carriers even more. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) Latest News about Southwest Airlines reports that about 59 percent of tickets (by value) are sold online; EasyJet sells 95 percent of its tickets on its Web site.

The choice today is between airline sites, travel-agent sites -- such as Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz in North America, Opodo in Europe, Zuji in Asia -- that offer a huge choice of airlines and fares, and "cross-shopping" sites such as Cheapflights.com, Mobissimo.com, Qixo.com or Kayak.com that search for fares among a range of online travel agencies, airline consolidators and airlines.

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