Airlines Cut Travel Agent Commissions, Cost Passed On To Consumer

Tom Morphet recently booked a flight from Gulfport to New York on Northwest. The travel agency tacked on a $25 service fee to make up for the commission the airline took away.

Morphet says he doesn't like paying the extra money.

"I think the airlines will just control it then, they'll control the price, and just up it when they feel like it," Morphet said. "You've got to go to them and get your ticket, and it won't be as convenient coming here and working through the agents."

Agency owner Michele Keppner says she thinks the airlines are trying to recoup losses from the last couple of years, and especially after September 11th.

"They feel like by cutting out the commissions on travel agencies, they're going to make up for some of their losses," Keppner said. "But we account for 80 percent of all airline travel ticket sales."

Keppner says depending on how much the ticket costs, you'll pay anywhere from $10 to $60 more.

"It will hurt some travel agencies," Keppner said. "If we only depended on airline tickets, we would have closed the doors way before this."

"No one can be in business and not charge for their service and their time," travel agency owner Louise Bell said. "Otherwise, they're in the red."

Bell and Keppner expect other airlines to stop paying them commissions, but they say loyal clients like Tom Morphet will help keep their doors open.