ATTAC Moves Forward

Agent group, planning suit against airlines, holds more meetings to drum up support, participation

By: David Peterkofsky

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 ( 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 the suit.

“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.”