Last week, my column talked about preparing to talk to the media. I must have been prescient; because last week, the airlines gave travel agents a perfect opportunity to get in front of the media and truly show their value and worth to the consumer. Did you take advantage of it?
Of course I am talking about the near unilateral decision made by American, Delta, and United to penalize clients who are flying multi-city itineraries. Ostensibly this was done in order to compete with the low-fare carriers, but let’s be honest, it is a way to bolster their bottom lines—none of which have been suffering.
In essence, the big three are forcing travelers into paying a higher fare.
For example, flying American one-way from New Orleans to Los Angeles with a connection in Dallas might cost $289. But breaking those two legs up into a multi-city ticket would cost $79 for the first leg and $94 for the second, for a savings of $116.
Now, American, Delta and United are forbidding and preventing that practice and forcing the traveler to either pay a fully refundable fare for the multi-city ticket, or a much higher fare for the non-refundable multi-city itinerary.
Unfortunately, this is not as transparent online as it really should be. To the naïve consumer, it just appears as if pricing has gone up. But that is where a good agent can help out.
While I have not heard of any debit memos for creating multiple PNRs for a trip like this—you can be sure they will come. But a good agent can work with a client to minimize the costs. Alternate cities are a great method. Have a client flying into Washington? Look to Baltimore and quick MARC train (or Uber) into the District. New York is served by 3 major airports and several smaller ones. Chicago… Dallas… Northern/Central Florida… you get the picture.
So why not tell your story? Re-read last week’s column and contact your local and regional papers with this important consumer news. Do you have a local radio station? Local or regional television? Create a blog post about it. Record a podcast. Do something!
As people are hearing of this story—travel agents are not on the top of their minds. Why not take the plunge and put yourself there? Your pitch to the media could be framed as a warning about the new pricing. It could be framed as a workaround of the new pricing. And done correctly, it could be framed as a simple information and compassion story surrounding the higher pricing models.
What are you waiting for—make your own story!