ATTAC, a group of travel agents who contend that the major
airlines colluded when they eliminated agent commissions earlier
this year, held two meetings last week trying to boost support for
its planned antitrust lawsuit.
Two agents who attended the group’s Las Vegas meeting in June
set up meetings of their own this week in their own communities
Denver and Davis, Calif. to spread the word about the group, which
has retained San Francisco antitrust attorney Joseph Alioto to
assemble its case.
Word of mouth appears to be a primary means of publicizing the
suit planned by ATTAC (antitrust travel agent compensation). Though
attendance has been light at some of ATTAC’s previous meetings in
Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago and New Orleans, “those who do come are
helping to spread the word,” according to Jan-Marie Brown, who owns
Happy Travel in Carson City, Nev., and has spearheaded ATTAC’s
efforts. <>At press time, nearly 600 agents had contacted
ATTAC and committed to the suit, Brown said. Collecting the fee to
participate in the suit $1,200 per agency with ARC sales of less
than $5 million in 2001 (more for larger retailers) is moving more
slowly, she added, but that was “to be expected, given the
situation travel agents are in.”
Brown said ATTAC originally hoped to attract 1,000 agencies to
participate in the suit, but ATTAC shifted its focus and now hopes
to collect $1 million, regardless of the number of agencies, to
cover Alioto’s retainer for the case. ATTAC recently unveiled a Web
site (www.attac.bz) that provides contact information, answers to
frequently asked questions about the suit and a letter of intent to
participate in the litigation.
On the site, Brown writes that the planned litigation will not
be a class-action suit, because with class actions “no changes will
occur, the attorneys will come away with a pocket full of money,
and we will get back about what we put into it.”
She adds that Alioto estimates the suit could last anywhere from
two to five years before a judgment is made.
But since not all agencies will be able or willing to front the
full fee to participate, Brown told TravelAge West that ATTAC now
accepts monetary contributions from agencies that want to support
“This may not be for everybody,” she said of the suit, adding
that a judgment against the airlines would benefit all agencies
whether they participate fully in the suit or not.
“It’s a big financial commitment to take this on.”