The pandemic forced BCD Travel to manage nearly half a billion dollars worth of unused, nonrefundable tickets during the year ending last month. During the first half of last year, Travel and Transport saw a 300 percent increase in the number of unused tickets stored in its database. American, Delta, Southwest and United in financial filings this month and last disclosed a combined liability of more than $10 billion in unused tickets as of December 2020.

The numbers are staggering, and the breakage is inevitable. Airlines have formulae for estimating the dollar value of tickets that they . . .

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