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American Airlines

AA response to Travelport’s actions regarding booking fees

Travelport, owner of the Galileo and Woldspan reservation systems, informed agents on Thursday (12.16.10) about its plan in to include American Airlines’ Booking Source Premium on non-U.S. and non-Caribbean travel agencies in GDS fare displays and quotes. American’s response is as follows:

Travelport is deliberately misleading agents and customers by hiding booking surcharge fees within base fares for American Airlines flights that it distributes to travel agencies, including online travel agencies. This deceptive practice falsely inflates the base fares for American Airlines flights, discriminating against American Airlines fares and deliberately misleading agents and consumers into believing that there are fewer choices available for low-cost flights. At the same time, Travelport is pocketing the increased booking fee.

The Booking Source Premium is not any kind of passenger fee and should not be portrayed as such. It is categorically not part of the fare for air transportation, nor is it related to any other kind of service rendered to the passenger by American or any other charge from American that in any way a passenger can be required to pay in the name of American. To suggest otherwise would be, in our view, an unacceptable deception on consumers for any sales intermediary to engage in this deceptive behaviour while processing tickets for American, without prejudice to the intermediary’s possibility in its own name to ask its customers to bear some portion or all of the intermediary’s own costs separate from the air fare.

By embedding the booking surcharge into the base fare, Travelport’s action is patently misleading and strikes a blow against transparency for air travel. This egregious action once again shows that Travelport is willing to stop at nothing to protect an outdated business model and platform for distribution of airline services from new technologies that are more robust, flexible, and cost effective. Travelport is using its subscribing agents worldwide as vehicles for retaliation against an airline that is looking for better ways of interacting with the agency community.

Travelport has inaccurately told agents on several occasions that American acted on its own in implementing the booking source premium. However, the fact remains that the booking surcharge for American flights was implemented only after Travelport arbitrarily increased booking fees for flights on American Airlines booked through Galileo and Worldspan, the GDSs owned and operated by Travelport.