Airlines and agents, strangelove and more


The airlines may say they love travel agents, and maybe they do, but they do have an odd way of showing it. Take Delta for instance; the carrier is now double-checking all bookings made on the Global Distribution System (GDS) for violation of its policies, and will fine travel agents who violate Delta booking policies. It’s sort of a new type of hallway monitor, especially since the punishment is automatic. For instance, the airline will charge an agent $3.50 for so-called passive bookings, which are sort of ghost bookings, and a whopping $50 for each invalid name change it books, and another $50 for what it calls “duplicative, fraudulent, fictitious, and speculative reservations.” Agents sometime make such bookings to keep or set aside or reserve a seat at specific fare.



The airline says it will not just bill the agents through the payments system, the ARC or Airlines Reporting Corp., but will use ARC’s Payment Express to withdraw funds automatically from the agency’s account. This is step beyond what other airlines such as American have done, in which the carriers billed the travel agents. United Airlines has done something similar to Delta’s automatic billing, and the travel agents through their trade group, the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), are protesting. But there may not be much they can do.

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