Airlines' attempt to cut out the middleman backfires

When AA recently backtracked on its plans to steer customers away from agents, the American Society of Travel Advisors cheered

Jun 11, 2024

When people think of jobs made obsolete by the Internet, travel agents often come to mind. But that's not entirely accurate, much to the frustration of airlines.

Key takeaways

  • Under the leadership of Chief Commercial Officer Vasu Raja, American Airlines set out to increase direct bookings through its website and mobile app, bypassing all but the largest travel agencies.
  • The conflict between ASTA and American Airlines began last year when the airline pulled 40% of its fares, mostly business travel, from various online booking platforms. It also limited frequent flyer mile awards to bookings made through its own website and "preferred" agencies.
  • ASTA head Zane Kerby said in an interview, "I'm really grateful that he understands that working with distribution partners is the way to go to change the industry.
  • United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa and British Airways are among the full-service carriers that have either withdrawn fares from traditional channels or imposed surcharges on bookings made through them. Many are investing heavily in direct sales, a strategy first pioneered by low-cost carriers.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

Related must-reads


Get our Daily Brief in your inbox

Consumers are changing the face of hospitality - from online shopping to personalized guest journeys and digitalized guest experiences ...
we've got you covered.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive email communication from and its partners.