Saturday, October 23, 2004

Don't Buy Your International Tickets Online

"Unlike deregulated domestic USA airfares, international airfares are regulated both by international treaties and by an international airline price-fixing cartel, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA).

It's worth noting that every USA-based airline operating scheduled international passenger flights has voluntarily joined IATA. USA airlines' invocations of "open markets", "free trade", and "open skies" can be dismissed as completely hypocritical and self-serving drivel until such time as they exercise their right to withdraw from IATA, as any of them could at any time. USA airlines are allowed to participate in IATA "traffic conferences" only because of a special exemption granted them from USA anti-trust laws which normally forbid such industry-wide collusion on prices..."

But there's a loophole in the system: travel agents can sell tickets at a discount from the "official" (overinflated) prices. However, electronic ticketing systems like Travelocity can't:

"All official fares are "published" either in hardcopy in the Official Airline Guides (OAG) or the Air Tariff, or electronically in the computerized reservation systems (CRS's) such as Sabre, Apollo, Amadeus, Worldspan, and Gabriel. By the very nature of the IATA price-fixing system, airlines cannot admit any knowledge of the fact that agents are selling tickets for less than the official fares. So only published fares are shown in any CRS."

11:02 PM
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