ear Mr. Airline Person, Sir:

Please be advised that I am writing this letter of my own free will, by myself, and that I am acting independently. Though I am writing about commissions, I am not acting in concert with any other travel agent.

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I remember when the commission was 10%, with no cap. The math was easy, and inflation wasn't a big deal. As fares went up, my commission did, too.

Now I'm looking at the calendar and noticing that the sixth anniversary of the first commission cap is Feb. 10, and I'm thinking, "Gee, I've had six years of inflation, and my cap is still $50 roundtrip."

I realize that inflation hasn't been bad, but still, inflation is inflation. Eventually, it will erode your purchasing power, right?

So I got to thinking, how bad has inflation been? Well, one of the wonders of the Internet is that this sort of information is only a click away. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has this nifty calculator on the Web. You pick a year, pick a number, and it does the math.

Guess what? My $50 cap today is the equivalent of $44.25 in 1995. Or, putting it another way, if my cap had been indexed for inflation, it would have been $56.50 last year. That's close to an annual rate of 3%.

I figure we'll add another 3% this year, and that would put me over $58.

So here's my idea: Round me up to $60. It's not really going to cost you anything because, after all, it's an inflation adjustment -- an overdue one, at that. You'd just be letting me catch up with your employees and your other vendors who've managed to adjust their prices over the past six years to keep up with inflation.

And please bear in mind that I'm only speaking for myself here. I'm not suggesting that you raise the cap on behalf of all travel agents. I'm just an independent business person, acting alone, trying to get the best deal that I can. We can even keep this our little secret.

Nobody has to know.

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