CO Goes After Travel Agents Again

New survival measures include penalties and fees for retailers and consumers

Continental Airlines released a series of cost-cutting and revenue-generating measures last week that include additional penalties and fees for travel agents, according to a report from Travel Management Daily.

The airline told retailers it would issue a $25 administrative debit memo for any U.S. taxes and fees reported incorrectly. Also, any debit memo issued that is not a late fee or administrative in nature would include a $25 service fee to cover “the increasing costs of ensuring accurate booking and ticketing,” the airline said. The airline didn’t explain what flat fee or administrative in nature means.

The carrier also doubled its paper-ticket fee to $20 for domestic flights and made it applicable to all distribution channels, including agents. It said travel agents will be hit with a $50 administrative debit memo if they do not correctly follow Continental’s instructions on how to assess the paper-ticket fee.

The airline also had bad news for low-fare customers, who Continental said would have to start paying for some services they now get free. An airline spokesman said Continental cannot legally disclose which fees will be charged, but said to look for new charges to be revealed during the next several weeks. Passengers paying higher fares will continue to receive the “full-service product” free, the line said.

The carrier also said it is cutting its domestic mainline jet capacity in August by 17%, compared with August 2001, and said it will ground an additional 11 MD-80 aircraft by the end of 2003.