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JetBlue’s Added Legroom Seating Not Available from Your Travel Agent

One small additional piece of info about JetBlue’s new added-legroom seats:  although they’re likely meant to attract business travelers, the seats are not available for sale through travel agents (which is, of course, where many business travelers must purchase their tickets).  This is not the fault of JetBlue (it’s the fault of the GDSs, the tools travel agencies use to book tickets); the GDSs are based on antiquated technology that does not allow (for the most part) for airlines to sell added services such as premium seats.  Air Canada is (was?) in a pissing match with the GDSs over this very issue — the ability for airlines to sell add-ons through the travel agency channel.  In this miserable economic environment a couple of airlines have introduced innovative ways to attract more revenue, and their main technology partner (the GDSs) can’t help them actually sell the new product.  But the GDSs have little reason to innovate, as they’ve locked the airlines into long-term distribution deals and the switching costs for travel agencies are very high.  Hence, the situation we have now where airlines have saved a bit of money on GDS costs while hindering their ability to generate more revenue.

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