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.....Friendly Skies or Skyway Robbery?

if a company sells you a ticket and has to sell other products with it, you will have to produce a voucher for the land arrangements. If you don't produce it due to it not being sold to you, or because you forgot the voucher...guess what. Air France(yes, Air France has done this a number of times) will not allow you to board!

No problem, I thought to myself...I'll just book a flight to JFK. So I asked for a ticket for a flight from Boston to JFK to Athens....I was refused and told that that connection would not work because the seat was not available in "L" class. So the seat is available if you fly Delta from Boston to LGA and then get on the Delta flight to Athens, but if you try to book a ticket from Boston to JFK and then the very same Delta flight- there is no seat available. So Delta is allowing us to book seats on the inconvenient flight connection, but not the one that is direct to JFK and then Greece...

OK... so it leveled off there...afterall, how could it possibly get worse for us.... you got it! They came up with another scheme. This one most agents don't even know about.

I had a client who wanted flights to Greece. I usually tell people to purchase from whoever has the lowest fare. I give them a quote and then they search around. I gave a quote on Delta. My net fare I could sell for about $1050. The published fare was about $1180(you can search on Sabre Reservation-they system that an agent uses to book tickets- and it will show you the lowest published fare offered by the airline). Wow, I'm saving my client $130.... he'll be happy.

The next day I recieved an email and he was pissed off at me for trying to rip him off. "What?" I thought to myself. "How can this be? I know what the published fare is." I checked again... sure enough the fare was listed at $1180. I figure the guy was either BSing or there was something else going on. I called Delta and asked for reservations for the dates I had for him. Sure enough they were offereing flights directly to the clients(that weren't listed in the "Global" reservation system, for $100 less than I could get my "net" fares for and $230 less than what they had listed as their lowest fare on the Sabre system.

What does this mean? That we can't even sell the published tickets and add a commission because the "published" fares that they offer us are more than the published fares that they offer the passengers directly!

Remember, this is what they are offering their agents who have sold millions of tickets for them over the years.... as a matter of survival they are cutting out their agents.... They cannot get rid of the passengers since they are the backbone of their business, but they can take away more and more services(and offer worse service).

So here we are....Delta is in deep financial trouble, they're cutting back on flights, flying many planes that are only partially full and losing money at a record rate..... and are still selling tickets at exhorbitant fares!

Any decision they make will be solely for the purpose of extending their economic survival(but I can't understand how they would rather fly empty planes than lower their fares)... If the best interest of the client is contradictory to the best interest of the airline.... what decision will they make?

Olympic Airways is now in a bit of a mess with the European Government. The national airline of Greece has recieved billions of dollars in illigal subsidies.(The contention being that it's not fair competition if an airline is subsidized by the governement). The ariline is hovering on the fringe of bankruptacy(and that's not even taking into consideration the billions they're supposed to pay back to Greek Government). They have one of only 2 nonstop flights to Greece from NY(Delta is the other one), yet they continuously fly their planes empty, rather than lower the fares to get more customers.(Most people would rather add another stop in to save $200 than to fly direct- which leads me to another question- how can it be more expensive to fly nonstop than to stop off in another country and catch another flight!). I don't have the answer but I will discuss it in my "If Movie Theaters were run like Airlines" article.

Maybe that's the answer. The airlines don't need to make money because they will be protected by Chapter 11 eventually or they can get bailed out by their governement(at least US airlines and the European airlines who don't want to follow the law!)

Well, enough of my rant against one of my most un-favorite industries.....I know that the skies are not friendly to agents...... run a few price searches and come to your own conclusion about how friendly the skies are to passengers.

Oh, and I forgot one last thing(which you may want to keep in mind). With some of our rates the airlines require that we sell land packages with the tickets.(Figure that one out, if I want to sell and Air France plane ticket to someone going to Greece, I have to also sell that person a hotel room, or a car rental or.... anything else as long as it adds up to $500-1000, depending on the airline. Why in the world would Air France care if I sold a hotel room in Greece? Oh, that's right.. they don't want to work with agents. But why would they give us "discount" fares if they don't want to work with us? hmmmm.....maybe they want to maintain the myth of the friendly skies and telling the world that those agents who helped them sell hundreds of millions(or more) tickets in the past are...well... a bit of an inconvenience....and they cut into their profits.... no, that's bad PR. Let's just offer them net fares that are higher than what we sell tickets for and if there are some fares that happen to be lower, we'll tack on a policy that they have to sell land also.

How does that affect you, the passenger? First of all, you may find a great fare, but then you have to purchase other travel products that may be more expensive, cutting into your savings...but more importantly, if a company sells you a ticket and has to sell other products with it, you will have to produce a voucher for the land arrangements. If you don't produce it due to it not being sold to you, or because you forgot the voucher...guess what. Air France(yes, Air France has done this a number of times) will not allow you to board!


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