ATPCO donates historic catalogue of fare books to Library of Congress

ATPCO donates historic catalogue of fare books to Library of Congress

The 1,588 bound volumes represent how flights used to be booked and distributed in the pre-internet age

Airline pricing and retail data specialist ATPCO has donated its collection of historic fare, rule and route books to the Library of Congress in the US.

The 1,588 bound volumes will go on public view at the world’s largest library to show how flights used to be sold, ticketed and distributed in the pre-internet age.

Since 1965 ATPCO (Airline Tariff Publishing Company) has distributed fare and fare-related data to travel agents, airlines, global distribution systems, and sales channels.

From 1940 to before the digital age, these fares, rules, and routes were published, printed and distributed around the world in large bound books. 

The 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. 

The Library is processing and cataloging the collection and once 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. 

Alex Zoghlin, ATPCO President and chief executive, said: “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’. 

“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 popular 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. 

Natalie Burclaff, section head of business reference in the Library’s Science, Technology & Business Division, said: 

“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.”