ASTA Continues Drive to Stop United Airlines' Shift of Credit Card Fees

ASTA will hold a briefing September 1 on air travel merchant fees to update media and Congressional staff on United Airlines’ efforts to shift the cost of merchant fees and the associated risk to travel agents and consumers. United  previously announced that it would no longer allow certain travel agents to use United's merchant account when booking any United product, effective Monday, July 20, a deadline which has since been granted a 60-day extension. Representatives of the National Tour Association and Business Travel Coalition will attend.

“United’s actions amount to the offloading of its credit card fees onto consumers through the back door onto travel agents, many of whom may be forced out of business should United succeed," ASTA said. "Agents will have no choice but to increase the fees they charge consumers to cover costs. What’s more, in 10 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, Oklahoma and Texas), travel agents and other retailers are prohibited by state law from passing on surcharges to consumers, forcing agents to shoulder these burdensome costs.

“While these increased costs are worrisome, the larger issue is that of shifted risk. Under the federal Fair Credit Billing Act, consumers have the right to dispute credit card charges in cases of non-delivery of purchased services," ASTA continued. "Under United’s new policy, these protections would be diluted as consumers would be forced to abide by the terms of travel agencies’ credit-card agreements rather than the airline’s agreement. In case of an airline bankruptcy, flight cancellation, or any other service dispute, consumers’ only recourse would be against the travel agency, which never had control over the delivery of the service and will have already remitted payment to the airline in cash. The result for the travelling public—fewer choices and a near-total elimination of consumer protections—at a higher price."

ASTA expects representatives of  U.S. Representative Michael A. Arcuri to attend along with Anne Fortney, former associate director for credit practices, Federal Trade Commission/Bureau of Consumer Protection. Other attendees include Chris Russo, president and chairman, ASTA;  William Maloney, CEO, ASTA; Kevin Mitchell, chairman, Business Travel Coalition; Steve Richer, public affairs advocate, National Tour Association; Olga Ramudo, travel agent, Express Travel, MiamiPaul Ruden, senior vice president, legal and industry affairs, ASTA and Colin Tooze, vice president, government affairs, ASTA.


FREE Virtual Event

Pivoting Back to Travel: Phase 4

Are you prepared to guide your clients through the “new normal” of travel? Join us December 15, 2020 from 1pm-2:20pm EST for Pivoting Back to Travel: Phase 4. The upcoming installment of our FREE virtual series will feature presentations from the Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, and Seabourn on their most up-to-date travel procedures, health & safety protocols they’ve implemented to keep guests safe, activities that are open to visitors, what your clients need to know while on their trip and more! Visit www.pivotingbacktotravel to view the full agenda and register for your FREE pass.

Suggested Articles:

Accor is taking full ownership of sbe’s hotel asset light business and entered an all-share merger with Ennismore. Here's what it means.

The USTOA asked when active members anticipate restarting operations in destinations around the world. Here's what they had to say.

According to the October survey 69 percent of active members say they are confident or highly confident that guest bookings will increase in 2021.