Sabre CEO calls for support of airline fee displays

By Arnie Weissmann

HOUSTON — Sabre CEO Sam Gilliland called upon corporate travel managers attending the National Business Travel Association International Convention and Exposition to rally around the cause of ancillary fee "transparency."

He urged delegates to let the Department of Transportation know they support a mandate that there be "full access to ancillary fees" through, among other outlets, GDSs.

"Airline pricing isn't getting any simpler," he said. "I'm not here to criticize airlines for charging fees [for unbundled services]," he said. "It allows customers [the opportunity] to buy themselves out of an otherwise bad travel experience."

SamGillilandIn addition to allowing consumers to make apples-to-apples price comparisons, he suggested that having ancillary fees in the GDSs will be in the best interest of travel managers. "They can and should be included in negotions with airlines," he said. "We're ready and waiting with the technology."

In an interview with Travel Weekly, Gilliland said, "We've taken cost out of the picture. We've been saying all along that it is our intent not to charge for distribution. There is a cost for doing this on behalf of the airlines. We've bourne the development and implementation costs because we want to be supportive of the types of products the airlines sell. We just want it to be as frictionless as possible."

Gilliland said the primary issue he faces is the amount of time it may take to come up with standards that the GDSs, airlines and interested third parties can all agree upon.

"We don't want to wait as long as it took to get [standards for] electronic ticketing. That took 10 years."

The GDS chief said that "technology — and certainly not GDS technology — is not slowing anything down. The important thing to remember is that selling a product goes a lot further than booking a product. If you're selling a $10 product, you need to have a really efficient set of capabilities behind it, for changes, refunds, that sort of thing, or the value proposition will be off-kilter."

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