Travel Agencies Hit Hard By Airline Comission Cuts

Will the days of booking travel plans via an agent soon be a distant memory? People who work at Tyler's Travel Masters hope not, "One word summarizes our's a relationship," says Owner Sharon Kay Howell.

A relationship Howell hopes to continue building even after major changes have caused a ripple in the travel waters. Recently, Delta Airlines announced they will no longer pay commissions to travel agents. Many other airlines, like American, United, Northwest and Continental have followed the trend.

"The only way we can earn money on issuing an airline ticket to the consumer--is to add a service fee on top of that," Howell explains.

Forced to recover expenses, she says a minimum of $25 dollars will be tacked on to most tickets, depending on price. Howell was so upset with Delta Airlines she took out an ad in Tyler's paper explaining her companies value. She believing the airlines have dwindled value away, "We're going to drive people to the internet and in that process the consumer gives up their choices."

Consumers like Chris Slater are turning to internet travel companies like Travelocity, and, "I can do it any time of the day and at my own convenience," says Chris. "I never have to worry about having to talk to somebody."

Slater says having more control is better even though "fees" are often hidden at these sites. As for Sharon Howell, her business' future relies on travelers who need more than just a ticket...those looking for a vacation that a computer can't provide.

Since commission cuts began in 1995, there were about thirty-five thousand travel agencies. Today that number is down to twenty-eight thousand.