Travel agents charging ticket fees
Travelers are shelling out extra bucks for airline tickets at some military bases in Europe.
Travel agents say they are following in the footsteps of stateside agencies. With competition from discount airlines and increasing fuel prices, struggling airlines have slashed or eliminated commissions they pay to travel agents.
“This is the way it’s turning; it’s sad,” said Maura O’Leary, director for Information, Tours and Travel in Naples, Italy.
Naples and Gaeta ITT recently started charging a booking fee of 25 euros for European tickets and 35 euros for flights outside Europe.
Other base travel agencies have enacted similar fees, while some are still looking at options.
“Right now we all might not be on the same fees,” O’Leary said. “It depends on where people are with their contracts.”
For example, the contractor who gets the tickets for Naples ITT started charging fees, which the base agency is now passing on to its customers.
Ramstein Ticket and Tours, which also has offices in Sembach and Vogelweh, started charging fees Feb. 1 after the airlines in Germany reduced their commissions, said Gisela Paulus, RTT director. Starting in September, the airlines in Germany will pay agencies no commission, she said.
RTT fees are $10 per ticket within Europe and $25 for tickets from or within the United States. There is no fee for the special military discounted flights to the States.
Some bases, including Aviano, Italy, are still looking at how much of a fee to implement. Nieves Elliott, Aviano ITT manager, said they are talking with an auditor and should know by mid-May.
She noted that when she first studied travel and tourism in college, agencies received commissions of 10 percent. Now airlines are paying agencies as little as a 1 percent — or zero — commission.
The travel agents noted that airlines and online services also charge fees.
And some off-base agency fees are as high as 55 euros, O’Leary said.
A SATO travel agent in the United Kingdom said SATO charges whatever fare is quoted by the airline, and there is no extra fee on top of that.