We are not certain whether the stars are in unique alignment or
there is something in the water, but the news that U.S. airlines
and retailers are pulling together about anything should put a
smile on the face of even the most cynical observer of the travel
But before you start dancing into the sunset thinking the
promised land is upon us, we hasten to mention that we are not
talking caps and cuts and other hot-button issues that have put
agents and airlines at loggerheads in recent years.
No, the simple fact is that the carriers, through the
intervention of their trade group, the Air Transport Association
(ATA), have asked the U.S. Department of Transportation for an
eight-month delay -- from July 13 to March 15 -- in complying with
a new DOT rule.
That regulation would require them to inform passengers when a
code-share partner and not the airline whose code is listed
actually is operating a flight. The airlines maintain, according to
the ATA, that they and the CRSs cannot reprogram their computers
fast enough to meet the original deadline.
Because the code-share disclosure rule also mandates that agents
provide clients with similar notice, any such programming delays on
the part of vendors could diminish the trade's ability to comply
fully with the rule. It is here that the interests of the airlines
and the trade coalesce. The airlines and the CRSs say they need
time to do the job right, and travel agents should want them to get
it because they are dependent on those vendors for providing
reliable code-share information to their clients.
Besides, travel agents are hardly eager to have the government
force them to do what they already willingly do as part of their
job: inform their clients about the terms and conditions of their
travel arrangements, including -- when it is available -- the
lowdown on code-shares. So what's the rush?