The day of United's commission cut announcement, we were at our local travel agency during our lunch break, booking a ticket for a personal trip. This was just about an hour before the news came. In the course of chatting about the back-to-back ticket issue, the agent -- owner of a classic mom-and-pop -- said that nothing surprises him after nearly 30 years in business, particularly when it comes "from the guys running the airlines today. That business about being our partners was always a joke anyway," he said. "If agents serve the public well, it's still a viable business." We left the agency thinking, What a civilized way to make vacation plans, sitting in an attractive office, across from a live human being who wanted to know all about our trip and then wished us well. When we returned to the newsroom, we found the fax from United sitting on our desk.

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