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Today, July 20, United will stop processing credit-card transactions from certain travel agencies. The travel agencies will now have to start paying the 3.5 percent credit card processing fees that United previously paid. This transition in fees will likely be paid by you at some point as travel agencies need to make money too. If this change leads to increased income for United, it is probable that other airlines will follow suit in this copy-cat industry.
According to a New York Post article, “half of airline tickets are now purchased through the country’s roughly 18,000 travel-agency locations.” So, 50% of you, in theory, may see a change in costs today or in the near future.
Although this is suppose to be only a trial program for United, the writing is on the wall that this program, if successful for United, will grow and make it to other airlines. The implementation of this change will also likely lead to further changes in the buying patterns of consumers who look to find the optimal way to maximize their spending. With no booking fees on United, and many other airline sites, it is likely that consumers will continue to shift their purchases to airline sites. It will be interesting to see if this materializes. If it does, how long before booking fees, or whatever term airlines want to make-up, become standard on tickets purchased on their sites? Regardless, prepare for more fees.