TonyBurr
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BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 9:20 am

I called British Airways to make a res for $US 750.00. The rep informed me that there was now a US$10.00 charge for making reservations on the phone, even for an electronic ticket, not a paper ticket. I said I tried to make the res online but could not, and they agreed that you can find it difficult to make some res online. First the airlines wreck havoc with the travel agents to get people to book with them, now they charge you to talk to them to make a res.

I find this incredible! Is this the way other airlines are going?
 
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ua2162
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 9:25 am

Many airlines are doing this, especially in Europe. I just booked a ticked for ATH-LGW-AMS on easyjet.com and it would have cost me more to purchase it over the phone. Actually, you're very lucky that you got the same fare as the internet. Usually the fares are much higher if you call in.
 
worldoftui
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 9:29 am

As a UK travel agent, I am interested to hear that this happens outside of the UK too.
BA introduced this about 18 months ago I think. "All offline reservations, including those through travel agents, will attract a 10GBP surcharge.'
Not nice having to pay, but in a way, the LCC's (in UK anyway) are doing the same by offering an online discount.
Must be annoying though, given that you had difficulties making the reservation online.
Is a shame, but seems to be the way things are going. If you want the human interaction / advice, you are going to have to pay for it. :-(

Mark
 
rjpieces
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 9:30 am

It makes sense. It costs an airline a few dollars (IIRC B6 pays $8) to book a reservation over the phone. If the pax books it online, it costs the airline only fifty cents.

I do agree that there should be a better way to match phone fares to the web and viceversa. Perhaps all fares could have a little code and you could read it to the agent so it could be brought up on their screen?
"Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon"
 
mrniji
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 10:01 am

LH is similar. They give a EUR 10-15 "online-discount". But if one experiences trouble with online booking due to system failure at LH (happened to me), they give the cheap fare even on the phone - this was an exception. But even I don't like this. The entire logic is to get rid of the expensive labor. Service is no more a criterion - they think that online booking and all this can substitute that, but the customers will punish that

"The earth provides enough resources for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed." (Gandhi)
 
Leskova
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:12 pm

Mrniji, I wish the customers did punish the airlines for it, but they don't... at least the vast majority doesn't.

I remember several customers that came into my travel agency, had me look up complex itineraries and then, after I informed them about the fare, saying "And now I want the online-discount even though I'm booking through you" (by the way, we did not charge service fees).

The problem is that lot's of people see nothing but the word "discount" - as soon as they see that, it's over: service? Who cares! Someone helping you actually find the flight best suited for you? Who cares!

As for the lowest fares only being available online - admitted, it's just one country, but it's not that way here: the fares you get online you'll also get in a travel agency - I practically never had a customer coming in with an internet printout (with the usual "I've been looking on the internet for a while and this is the best I could come up with" comment) that I couldn't match or beat, and that's without giving a single cent of discount.

The only advantage that online bookings have, and will always have, is the fact that you're able to do everything from your desk, without having to leave your home and without having to look out for opening times - and, admittedly, in most of the world, you'll find lower fares online that you would in a travel agency.

And, in the end, most people will consider the fare and, maybe, the airline - but the fare is still the most important criteria.

Regards,
Frank
Smile - it confuses people!
 
sevenair
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:31 pm

Yeah, well we get charged for it in the UK, so should every other BA passenger who pays over the phone
 
mrniji
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:36 pm

Frank, you are in most points completely right. I once a while ago compared online fares with agents fares and realized that the latter are mostly cheaper. And you are also completely right that the word "discount" is stimulating and that people don't appreciate service anymore. The time for agents is not easy...

What do you say about LH's argument with the agents in regard to a service charge? I read something here that LH now wants the agents themselves to charge their clients for service and there was something like collective action against LH by the agents.

In times, where everyone can do everything online from the own desk, as you say, I could imagine that the business for agents is more and more difficult. Airlines want their clients often to book online to save the provision. I remember, there was a time when one called the airline and said one wants to book a ticket, they replied:"Please call any agent to book a ticket with us". But that seems the past. Frank, even I hope that the clients will punish the airline for this. In my view (I saw an interesting documentary on this), all this practices are first tested in Britain and when they are successful spread throughout the world. No wonder that the chief example here is of BA. That's the "new economy" with all its benefits and disadvantages!

"The earth provides enough resources for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed." (Gandhi)
 
AZA330
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:49 pm

Oooooh, this is not good  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Here in Italy when you call BA you have also to pay the phone call (and I mean a special number with more costs than a normal phone call) and now we also have to pay some Euros for the service?

But a good thing I noticed is that for the tickets from Italy to my usual destinations in Club class I will pay about 200 Euros less than the old fares.

I don't know if it works in the same way in Traveler.

Ciao.
 
mrniji
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 5:53 pm

Here in Italy when you call BA you have also to pay the phone call (and I mean a special number with more costs than a normal phone call) and now we also have to pay some Euros for the service?

This is the new strategy of them: they want you to call you expansive phone numbers and then they keep you on hold with:"Sorry, but all our operators are busy now". In the same time, while you pay they flood you with advertisements and try to tell how much they care about service... and this modell is spreading throughout the world, because it seems to be successful... this is the thing I really hate here (the way of neoclassical business and ripping the people of to maximize profits)
"The earth provides enough resources for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed." (Gandhi)
 
AZA330
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:01 pm

Yes, it's like Mrniji said.
One time, just to ask how much hand baggage I could have with me I spent at the phone something like 8 minutes!!!!!

8 minutes of the same 3 advertisements...join the Executive Club (i'm already a member dear advertisement voice!!!!!)....fly to London for less than 99 Euros (I've not to fly to London dear voice!!!!) and so on.....  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Ciao
 
VSGirl
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:07 pm

I made a booking over the phone this morning with British Airways for a return flight to Paris this weekend and they did not charge me a booking fee...

Kimberly.
 
mrniji
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:18 pm

Kimberly, the booking fee might have already been included in your ticket price. Of course it depends on the fare class you travel (next weekend is a quite spontaneous trip, so it could be expansive anyways). Compare it with the fare you got online and see whether a fee was levied
"The earth provides enough resources for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed." (Gandhi)
 
QIguy24
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:23 pm

Yep. Most of the airlines does that. But the funny thing is, if you book on the internet like they want you to do, you have to pay a charge there as well. That is not really fair. I work for an airline my self but I don't think its right..
 
Leskova
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:25 pm

Mrniji, yes, the "service fee"... I kind of like the way that LH presents it as "the travel agents don't work for us but for the passenger, so the passenger should pay them"...

First of all, the EUR30 (domestic/intra-europe) and EUR45 (intercontinental) will actually be charged whichever way you make your reservations: if you call Lufthansa, you'll pay them - if you book through LH's website, you'll pay them - if you book through a travel agency, you'll pay this amount (or whatever other amount the travel agency has set: they aren't legally bound to these amounts).

In principle, LH is right when they say that travel agents work more for the passenger than for the airline - since travel agents here are bound by law to offer the lowest fares regardless of the airline they're on, they don't really have a choice - they can always point out LH (or any other preferred airline) and the respective fare as well as any advantages they think this airline has, but essentially, the travel agency does work for the passenger.

The point is, with around 85-90% of German LH bookings being made through travel agencies last year, I somehow doubt that the travel agencies aren't also doing something for LH...

If LH had gone the same way as other airlines have, that is eliminating the commission and lowering the fare by what the commissions used to be, I probably wouldn't have as many problems with it as I do - but LH decided to keep the same fares AND impose the service fees.

And finally, if the practice that AZA330 describes becomes a regularity, then I guess that at some point you'll end up paying half (or more) of what you save just for the "pleasure" of being able to make your booking by phone...

I certainly understand that airlines want bookings to be made through their website - they are businesses and they want to make money: I'm just not sure if they're going at it in the right way...

Regards,
Frank
Smile - it confuses people!
 
mrniji
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:27 pm

But the funny thing is, if you book on the internet like they want you to do, you have to pay a charge there as well

Interesting, where is the sense? LH give, while booking an internet ticket, explicitely an online discount (one can also obtain with participating agents, right Leskova?).

The point is, with around 85-90% of German LH bookings being made through travel agencies last year, I somehow doubt that the travel agencies aren't also doing something for LH...

Exactly, the agents did a lot for LH's business, since they are the last instance to sell the tickets and "to promote an airline". But nowadays they only see them as a profit-cutting institution...  Sad


I certainly understand that airlines want bookings to be made through their website - they are businesses and they want to make money: I'm just not sure if they're going at it in the right way...

I doubt that too... although clients always want to have a low fare, I think there is a limit. They realize that de facto they are ripped off (with expansive phone calls, fees etc). Cooperation with agents might be better as competition, since this has made LH strong, as we have seen with Leskova's figures



I think many things will happen the next months/years in this regard. Hopefully, the clients will shun this practice of fees while booking on the phone and go for other airlines who have something like a minimum service. Lots of jobs can be rescued like this

[Edited 2004-04-29 11:30:41]

[Edited 2004-04-29 11:32:44]
"The earth provides enough resources for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed." (Gandhi)
 
LJ
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:27 pm

TonyBurr, in a few years time you probably have to pay a service fee for online booking aswell. In Europe some airlines start (or thinking about) to charge for online bookings aswell as phone bookings. Needless to say they also stop paying commission to travel agents.

In the end the airlines are doing their best to get the most money out of their passengers and nobody seems to care.

 
Leskova
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 6:35 pm

Yes, LH also enables travel agents to offer the EUR10 discount through their websites - you have to register for it (which costs money - not directly with LH, but with IATA, the CRS and in some cases the online booking system), but after that's done, you can offer the discount as well.

Which will still make online bookings EUR10 cheaper after the introduction of the service fees - but it'll really only be EUR10, not more, because (as mentioned above) LH also charges the service fee on it's website.
Smile - it confuses people!
 
AirframeAS
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Thu Apr 29, 2004 10:11 pm

The service fees are NOT to pay the agent's wages. The reason for the fee is to pay for that 1-800 number. Its free for you to call, but its NOT free for the airline to have. Same thing with online bookings...its free for you to access but its not free for the airlines to have in the world wide web. See my point now?

Maybe some of us should consider going to a CTO or go to the airport and pay for your tickets and avoid the booking fees. maybe not?
A Safe Flight Begins With Quality Maintenance On The Ground.
 
mrniji
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Fri Apr 30, 2004 1:46 am

The reason for the fee is to pay for that 1-800 number

Maybe in the states... but here in Europe and in other parts of the world numbers are not toll-free

Then, you may be right that it costs them to maintain a webpage. I could also argue that it costs them to have regular landline numbers... a webpage is a must today, and justifying their service fees with this is not very adequate.

De facto, the service fee is another increase of price and nothing else
"The earth provides enough resources for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed." (Gandhi)
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Fri Apr 30, 2004 2:00 am

Maybe some of us should consider going to a CTO or go to the airport and pay for your tickets and avoid the booking fees. maybe not?

Your comments are accurate (especially about the costs of toll-free numbers and so on), but in the interest of fairness, many carriers now charge a service fee for doing business at their City Ticket Office locations that could otherwise be handled over the internet or over the phone with a reservations sales agent.

Personally, I think BA is going about this all wrong. You lower your distribution costs by encouraging your customers to do their business online ( where your costs are far lower) via discounting your ticket prices for those who purchase online, and charge the "normal" fares to those who book through other means.

This way you're not adding a surcharge to one subset of customers per se, but incentifying another subset who books through your website.

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

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Russophile
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Fri Apr 30, 2004 2:26 am

The service fees are NOT to pay the agent's wages. The reason for the fee is to pay for that 1-800 number. Its free for you to call, but its NOT free for the airline to have.

This is why they have a concept called tax deductions. The airlines would be claiming all these operating expenses against any tax they would pay. The same as websites. They would have high-rise accountants who would know the nitty-gritty and how to set things up so as to write it off at tax time.

When I was researching for a trip the US/Canada/Hawai'i a few years ago, I ended up booking my Honolulu hotel directly with the hotel. They had a 1800 (008 back them) number which I could ring from anywhere in Australia, and it would transfer me directly to the hotel in Waikiki (can't remember the name of the property now for the life of me, but it was part of a large Hawaiian based hotel/condo chain) -- even though they had a local GSA in Sydney, and their property was bookable through any t/a -- they would not offer this free call number to Australia if they weren't able to write it off somehow.

Whatever way you look at the issues raised, the days of the corner travel agent are numbered -- the same could be said also of larger agencies -- since the advent of the net, I doubt many agents have seen an increase of business year-by-year. As the population becomes more accustomed to using the net to transact, their business will continue to decline. The only area which is a right pain in the arse to book online is package holidays -- agents will always come in handy for that segment of the market -- but flights only -- forget it.

Doesn't make the charges the airlines are charging right though. Next thing you know, they will install pay-for-use toilets on board their aircraft, or how about oxygen masks which will only release after you have inserted a $1 coin into a slot. They'll become as bad as the banks.
 
mrniji
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Fri Apr 30, 2004 2:51 am

they will install pay-for-use toilets on board their aircraft, or how about oxygen masks which will only release after you have inserted a $1 coin into a slot

Looks like a new concept for Ryanair  Smokin cool
"The earth provides enough resources for everyone's need, but not for some people's greed." (Gandhi)
 
LJ
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Sat May 01, 2004 1:54 am

I doubt many agents have seen an increase of business year-by-year.

As a matter of fact, one of my friend who sells tickets told me 2003 was the best year he ever had. Growth was beyond expectations, but then again all Dutch travel agents (on aveage) did well (more sales and profit in 2003).

Fact is that travel agents are sometimes much cheaper than any online booking engines as they can have fares which you can't publish in public (and given that the internet is a public medium this automatically means these fares are not on the internet). The only way to get these deals is to know which tarvel agent has wich deals. only then you can get the cheapest ticket. Furthermore, those with specific needs can't use the internet either.
 
bullpitt
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RE: BA Charges For Phone Res

Sat May 01, 2004 2:09 am

It's actually a way companies have to incentivate online bookings by making them cheaper than phone bkg. The problems with Internet, like everything else, where machine or computer does everything, Is that when things go wrong or in a way it was not considered during programming you have a hell of a job trying to talk to someone about it. Many people who book online end up calling us to check their booking because they have no idea what they've actually done. We at IB take calls from all over Europe, the cost of the call is shared by the pap and the company for the client is a local call, IB pay the rest so as you can see it's not in the interest of the company to waste the clients time.

These are my principles but if you don't like them I have others

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