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 industry scene.

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?

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