Agency, company, traveller: who’s ripping off whom?

In an article published online in Tourmag on 10 December, Fabrice Dariot, the chairman of an online travel agency, ‘Bourse des vols’, lashed out at the airlines. He criticises them for their « no show » policy, when a passenger does not make the entire journey. Let’s get to the facts, and nothing but the facts!

On the airline side

The pricing process is sometimes complex, but it follows a certain logic and remains transparent. On the whole, it encourages passengers to book their tickets well in advance and to keep an eye out for special offers.

In this way, the airline will be able to offer journeys comprising several tickets, or « packages » of sorts. For example, a Milan – Paris – Rio flight, designed to boost the Italian market, could be cheaper than a Paris – Rio. Or quite simply, a return trip could be priced lower than a separate outward and return trip.

On the consumer side

The aim is to take advantage of the fierce competition between airlines. They look for the best price, which is perfectly reasonable, and sometimes at any price, which is less so. Like buying a Milan – Paris – Rio « package » with the intention of starting the flight in Paris (since it’s cheaper than the Paris – Rio), a practice most often advised by the agency, which is selling « advice ».

The result: a serious loss of revenue for the airline, which offered a preferential fare subject to certain conditions, which were not met. Two bottles of Champagne at a 50% discount is tempting, but you can’t take one at half price.

On the Comparators and travel agencies side

The new rules put in place by the airlines are being criticised as a cartel. If a journey is not made in its entirety in the order in which the tickets are issued, it is lost. In other words, it is no longer possible to take my Milan – Paris – Rio from Paris.

Accusing « immoral »  airlines of taking advantage of passengers’ distress, Fabrice Dariot used a truculent metaphor: « You take a 29€ menu with a tomato salad as a starter. Except you don’t like tomatoes ». What a strange way to start a meal! Is it logical and serious to order a dish that you’ve already decided not to eat? And is it respectful of the restaurant owner’s work?

At N&C

We propose a solution that satisfies the airlines and their customers, and calms the agencies. Either the traveller uses the « packages » with the intention of not respecting the conditions of their use, to the detriment of the airline, and it is normal that his tickets are cancelled. In this way, airlines will avoid flying planes full of « noshow » passengers and will sell their seats at a fair market price.

Or the passenger is acting in good faith, can justify having missed his flight and contacts the airline to continue his journey. The airline will be happy to satisfy a customer, which after all is its objective: a happy customer is a loyal customer.

It’s a solution that could serve as a model for travel agencies, which are regularly condemned for fraudulent practices, hidden charges and IP tracking (or how the price of a ticket mysteriously increases the third time you visit their site).

Keywords: Agency, airlines, traveller, package, IP Tracking