United Pauses Agency Debit Memos While Updating Accounting System

United Airlines on June 1 put a temporary hold on the "majority" of its debit memos issued to U.S. travel agencies, as it upgrades its revenue accounting system.

United expects the cutover from "custom software" to the Sirax system, operated by Lufthansa Systems, to take between six and eight weeks.

"We anticipate a seamless transition to Sirax that shouldn’t be too noticeable for travel agents once the transition is complete," according to a United spokesperson.

Once operating in late July or early August, the new system "will allow for better handling of data and easier connections with our partners," United stated.

Airlines routinely issue debit memos that require an accredited agency to remit funds when they don't comply with a carrier's ticketing rules or other requirements.

United's debit memo hold doesn't mean agencies are off the hook. The carrier will issue backlogged memos when the new system is up.

During the cutover, United stated it would backlog "the majority of debit memos," including those related to incorrect tour codes, commissions, fares, booking classes or nonrefundable ticket refunds.

Meanwhile, debit memos "will still be issued as normal for credit card chargebacks, and group or unaccompanied minor violations." Further, "travel agencies can still view and work debit memos accrued prior to the hold time," United stated.

United in a notice to agencies added that it "will continue to work credit memos through the end of June." Those, too, then will be put on hold until the cutover is complete.