Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today commented on the latest development in the battle for the future of low-cost, consumer-centered travel distribution as global distribution system services provider Sabre took steps to protect the interests of an independent travel distribution system from American Airlines’ (AA) attempt to impose a new model that heaps huge new costs on the travel industry and diminishes comparison shopping for consumers. According to its press statement, Sabre has downgraded AA’s offerings in most of its displays, eliminated booking fee discounts and delivered notice of termination of its agreement with AA.
When I heard Thenardier, the pub owner in Les Miserables, sing Master of the House, I couldn't help thinking that he was an airline executive skiing about fleecing his passengers. Shortly afterwards, a friend sent me a vintage video entitled, "If Airlines Worked Like Health Care." They both evoke an all-too-real image of today's airlines.
American Airlines has been in the travel news a great deal recently, not so much for anything going on with their planes, but with how they want their flights booked. Now they are threatening travel agents with a $5.50 segment fee for flights not booked on their system. Another stealth fee for consumers may be coming from AA through travel agents to consumers.
Under cover of the Thanksgiving chaos, American Airlines' latest moves are getting relatively little press. But they could end up having a very big effect on travel and airfares.
According to AA, they want travel agents to allow the airline to better serve the traveling public. Hold onto your wallets and don't fall for this AA scam. It may be a battle between inside-the-airline-world corporations at the moment, but it will have dire consequences for consumers if AA is permitted to evade competitive pricing in the name of personalization.