The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and the Association of Retail Travel Agents - Canada (ARTA Canada) said they were pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has put off any proposal on airline ancillary fee distribution until at least 2012. While the DOT may author and review fee proposals internally throughout the rest of this year, any public details will not likely be anticipated until next year.
"We are optimistic that the DOT is proceeding carefully in reviewing all sides of the ancillary fee matter, particularly because ARTA feels that forcing airlines to provide this data to GDSs will not allow a fair and equitable negotiation between the carriers and the distribution systems to agree on connectivity price points and proper screen displays. So far, the GDSs have been resistant to enhancing their systems to give us the same benefits that we can obtain from airline.com web sites. We can't continue to service our customers with out-of-date, costly workflows," said ARTA Chairwoman, Nancy Linares.
ARTA noted that both associations have been fully supportive of new, powerful and cutting-edge distribution tools for direct connect, ancillary fee sales and the benefits of more customized travel offerings included in Distribution 2.0 and the Open AXIS standards, of which both are allied members.
"The additional time contemplated by the DOT to review ancillary fee distribution will prove to the DOT that travel agencies and travel management companies have non-GDS tools readily available and actually deployed in the marketplace. By acknowledging these alternative systems, particularly where airlines and these innovative platforms, like Farelogix, have been able to negotiate beneficially on costs and graphical screen displays, any DOT mandate for forcing these fees into GDSs will become wholly unnecessary", said ARTA Managing Director and President of ARTA Canada, Bruce Bishins.
Bishins participated last week in a review of graphical screen displays and enhanced workflows as a group of travel agents actually worked on a non-green-screen booking and ticketing desktop tool. Both ARTA and ARTA Canada are extremely pleased with the level of satisfaction expressed by the participating agents.
ARTA announced that both associations will continue to help its members and all agencies in the U.S. and Canada in having a better understanding of these important travel technology options.