Travel Agents Claim Delta Practices Unfair
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A coalition of 24 travel agencies in Utah has taken legal action in an effort to combat what it claims are unfair trade and pricing practices by Delta Air Lines.
The group, called the Independent Travel Agency Alliance, contends that Delta has entered into exclusive marketing arrangements with Utah’s three largest travel agencies, placing members of the alliance at a competitive disadvantage.
The Delta marketing agreements, according to the coalition, allow the three big travel agencies - Murdock Travel, Morris-Ask Mr. Foster and Beehive- Bonneville Travel Group - to offer special ″bulk fares″ or ″tour-based fares.″
Bulk or tour-based fares, which airlines have designed for the leisure travel market, do not require advance booking by travelers and represent a significant reduction from airlines’ standard fares.
The special fares include round-trip air travel and, in some instances, either a car rental or hotel accommodations.
Alliance members claim they are not allowed to offer the special fares to their customers and as a result have lost substantial business.
Attorney Richard W. Giauque of Salt Lake City said a complaint was filed Thursday with the U.S. Department of Transportation on behalf of the 24 Utah travel agencies.
He said the complaint seeks an order barring Atlanta-based Delta from offering the special travel arrangements or compelling the airline to make them available to all travel agents.
Al Kolakowski, Delta’s assistant vice president of sales, said the bulk fares are designed for the leisure travel market and not the business travel market.
″We’ve been offering these fares across our system,″ he said. ″The fares are part of a tour package which can include mandatory car rental or a minimum stay in a hotel.″
But alliance members contend that Utah’s big three travel agencies are aggressively advertising and promoting the special fares to corporate clients.