The Australian Air Transport Association (AATA) has advised consumers to stop buying air tickets from agents in the wake of the company’s new policy to register with a lic registration agency.
The policy will begin rolling out across the air travel industry from Monday.
“There is a risk that customers will use agents to book tickets on behalf of their airlines and that they will end up paying higher prices for the same flights, and we believe this may harm consumers’ choice of airline,” said AATA general manager, Mark Latham.
“If a customer does not want to use a registered agent, the AATa is committed to helping them find another agency.”
“Agency registration and booking is a vital component to our overall air travel and airline compliance program.”
AATAs policy states that air ticket booking is managed through a “client-agent relationship” that includes the booking agent and the airline.
“Airline clients can register their clients with the AATS and receive a link to the relevant agency’s registration website,” the policy says.
“A client can then purchase tickets from that agency through their agent’s online booking portal.”
The policy also states that any agency registration fees will be deducted from a client’s booking fee.
“The AATS strongly believes that every customer should have the right to choose the agent that is right for them,” the AATTA said in a statement.
“This includes consumers who use an agent to book a flight with a non-registered agency.”
AATS will be issuing a further clarification statement to consumers on Monday afternoon, with more details expected to be made available later in the day.
AATas spokesperson, Andrew O’Connell, told TechRadars the policy would help consumers avoid the possibility of higher ticket prices by letting them know about agent fees before they purchase the ticket.
“We are aware that there are some people that are using an agent service, so we are going to be making it clear to customers that if they are using a registered agency, we will not be charging a fee for their booking service,” Mr O’Connor said.
“For example, if a client is using an agency and their flight has a ticket price of $150 and they book a ticket on the ATS website, that will not count towards their booking fee and they will get a refund for that booking.”
He also confirmed that customers who choose to use an agency will not pay a fee to AATS for booking, instead paying a booking fee based on the airline’s fee schedule.
“All booking fee amounts will be applied to the client’s booked price, so booking agents do not have to charge any commission for the booking service.”
AAP has already announced that customers could be charged up to $15 per ticket for booking agents, a figure which could put it at odds with the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ latest data, which shows an average ticket price in Australia is $5.52.
“Customers who are using booking agents should also be aware that if a customer is using a service that charges a booking agent fee, the booking agency is not responsible for the fees charged to the customer,” the agency said.