ARTA Defends Actions on United Credit Card Policy

The Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA) and ARTA Canada issued a statement defending their actions on United Airlines credit card policy, contesting allegations that ARTA “caved” to United. After a careful review of comments by the media and agents, ARTA said reports that ARTA and ARTA Canada have “caved” or laid down their concerns about United’s policy shift “are unequivocally false.”

“At no time did ARTA ever accept such a policy change at United. To the contrary, ARTA made it very clear to United that such a change was both unacceptable and a non-starter for the agency community,” ARTA said in a statement clarifying the associations’ stand on United Airlines’ shift of credit card merchant policy.

“Rather than continue to decry United’s plans in the media, which both ARTA and ARTA Canada had indeed done, ARTA sought to meet with United to directly explain ARTA’s concerns, to hear United’s position, and to see if there were room to consider alternatives to this specific form of distribution cost reduction which ARTA and ARTA Canada are aware have been discussed with some of the impacted travel agents,” ARTA said.

“With receptivity to ARTA’s concerns and an indication to continue ongoing dialogue with ARTA on this matter, United’s positive approach was a basis for ARTA to show equal good faith by withdrawing its merchant of record complaint against United at the U.S. Department of Transportation,” ARTA said.

“The decision to do so was neither a concession to United, nor any change in ARTA’s core position, but rather an indication that ARTA wished to progress additional dialogue with United in a constructive climate, not a confrontational one which clearly created speculation that was based on various interpretations of what happened instead of the facts.

“ARTA and ARTA Canada understand that travel agents and the media would like to know more about the substance of the associations’ discussions with United. While more information might appear to some to be useful, the associations and United both feel that dialogue in a more public setting would be inappropriate,” ARTA said.

“Every business has the right to have private conversations, especially regarding contractual agreements, with their customers and partners directly. That is the foundation to a good working relationship.  In fact, some of the impacted travel agents that have had additional dialogue with United have recently discussed those conversations with the media and have done so under anonymity,” ARTA said.

“ARTA and ARTA Canada wish to assure all concerned that the associations are doing everything possible to represent the valid concerns of the travel agency community in this matter. This has always been the associations’ hallmark, and nothing has changed,” ARTA said.

“ARTA and ARTA Canada reached out to United because it was the right and most effective thing to do. Discussions are ongoing and both associations are optimistic that solutions acceptable to travel agents and United will be found. More information will be made available at the proper time,” ARTA said.

ARTA is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona and is the strategic partner of Canadian-based ARTA Canada. For more information about ARTA, please contact Pat Funk, ARTA's Executive Director, at 1-800-969-6069 or by e-mail to [email protected]