Overriding concerns

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Pardon me, but your overrides are showing. That's right, Congress has just been advised that agent overrides are contributing to nasty predatory practices in the airline industry and that such incentives should be put under a DOT microscope.

The suggestion comes from a report on airline competition released Friday by the National Research Council. The study, six months in the making, states as its overall premise that start-up carriers shouldn't have to fly through so many hoops to compete against established airlines. A leveled playing field is called for.

That's where your commissions come in: "Some airlines," the study says, "have aggressively sought to influence travel agents with bonus commissions so that agents would, in turn, steer customers away from rivals. To combat this, DOT should more closely monitor the way airlines use travel-agent incentive payments."

I'd like to suggest that DOT assign a personal "explainer" to every travel agent in the country. That person would accompany you to the grocery store, pharmacy, wherever your day takes you, and explain to anybody who attempts to charge you for goods or services that you no longer are contributing to unfair competition between airlines and, that being the case, you're now unable to pay for things. Yeah, that'll do it.

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