Of 86 corporate travel managers
surveyed by the Business Travel Coalition this month, 95 percent said they
would support a requirement that airlines make ancillary fee data available
through global distribution systems. BTC is releasing the survey's findings on
Tuesday, a day before its chairman, Kevin Mitchell, plans to sit before a House
subcommittee hearing on airline fees and ask for Congressional support to do
The Department of Transportation is examining such a proposal in its latest
round of passenger protection rules, released in June and slated for enactment
by year-end, but not before the end of a 180-day comment that began with a
notice of proposed rulemaking on June 2.
Among the proposed rules are plans to increase compensation for passengers
bumped from flights and allowing airfare bookers to hold fares before final
purchase for 24 hours. BTC is throwing its support behind a provision to make
the disclosure of optional service fees, such as those for checked bags,
available through GDSs, which DOT said "would ensure that the information
is readily available to both Internet and 'brick and mortar' travel agencies
and ticket agents so that it can be passed on to the many consumers who use
their services to compare air transportation offers and make purchases."
"BTC is not against unbundling as a matter of principle, but rather, it is
opposed to the absence of disclosure of all fees and charges such that
consumers cannot fully benefit from comparative shopping," Mitchell noted
in prepared testimony.
Building the case for Mitchell's congressional hearing, BTC's survey found that
all of the travel manager respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that,
"unbundling and ancillary fees have caused serious problems for corporate
travel programs." Further, the survey found that 86 percent of the travel
buyers "believe that airlines, absent government regulation, will not make
fair, adequate and readily accessible disclosure of their extra fees and
charges so that travel managers and/or their TMCs can do comparison shopping of
the all-in prices for air travel across carriers."
In written testimony prepared for Wednesday's House hearing, Mitchell
concludes, "The single most important step this Committee can take is to
urge the DOT, through its notice of proposed rulemaking, that in addition to
requiring airlines to make add-on fee data available and easily accessible on
their websites they should be required to make that same fee data available to
the travel agency channel through any GDS in which that airline has agreed to
Still, even if advocates sway DOT to adopt such a rule, an industry-wide solution
that is being developed to enable airlines to display and sell ancillary
services through global distribution systems remains at least months away.