July 1, 2009

Travel agents protest United fee shift

United Airline's decision to shift credit card fees to travel agents will result in higher air travel ticket prices, a U.S. trade group said.

United informed an unspecified number of travel agents they would have to pay the roughly 2 percent fees for tickets purchased by credit card as of July 20, USA Today reported Wednesday.

Those agents will be assessed a $75 per ticket fee if they continue to use the airline's merchant agreements, the newspaper said.

The trade group has written United requesting the policy be rescinded.

With 50 percent to 60 percent of all airline tickets sold by travel agents, the agent's going to be hit with big costs and big risks said Paul Ruden, senior vice president for legal an industry affairs at the Society of Travel Agents.

Consumers, he said, are going to be asked to pay for some or all of it.

Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition said he feared shifting fees at one airline could become a new industry policy.

United Spokeswoman Robin Urbanski said credit card processing costs are escalating at a high rate.

We're continuing to explore ways in the current economic environment to reduce our costs and run an efficient airline, she said.