Air Canada’s Travel Agent Fight

Air Canada is in the midst of a pissing match with GDSs, the companies that supply airfares to travel agents.  They have removed their lowest fares from the GDSs (and hence, from travel agents) because of technical limitations of the GDSs.  Air Canada has made some really innovative changes to their fare structure, including allowing customers to LOWER the fare $10 by agreeing to not check baggage and not to make changes to their ticket. (On the flip side, they’ll charge you $15 for assigned seating). 

I bring all of this up because this could have a huge impact on how airline tickets are sold going forward.  Air Canada has unbundled much of the travel experience, charging you only for getting you from here to there, and making you pay more for everything else.  This is a good thing, by the way — it keeps fares low.  What’s interesting is that corporations (who book through travel agents) are very, very upset about this.  Boo hoo.  Air Canada has gotten smart about distribution (unlike 95% of airlines out there), and are only selling cheap seats in places where they can make money.  How novel.  I don’t expect US airlines to follow this any time soon (they are very, very slow to change), but European airlines probably will.  And then it’s just a matter of time before you’re getting a discount for keeping your bags on your lap.

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