A Qantas spokesman said the last commission reduction was more than 15 years ago, travel agents had more than a year’s notice of the change, and service fees were a “logical approach. “to reward travel agents.
“Even before the commission change, we saw that many travel agents embraced the growing trend towards a fee for service model that has already occurred in many overseas markets,” the spokesperson said.
Travel agents are reluctant to pass on charges, which they estimate range from $ 75 to $ 175 per ticket, but Waddington said the small commission rates mean service fees are “not avoidable “.
“We don’t do it to be bad – we do it because no one else pays us,” he said.
Ballarat travel agency owner Frank Ford Travel Kylee Ellerton has been in the industry for three decades and remembers when commissions were 10 per cent. Commissions from other areas of the travel industry, such as hotels, tour companies and transportation companies still hover around 10 percent, he said.
Ellerton warned that Qantas customer service teams will be subject to additional pressure from those constrained by the new service fees who choose to book flights on their own but encounter issues they normally address with their travel agent.
“If we don’t, they will be busier and busier and without any customer service.
“Why do we bend over and help them if the airlines don’t pay us?”
The 1 percent commission was described as a “kick to the guts” by Ellerton who said some of his clients, loyal Qantas fliers, had switched to other airlines.
Emirates, British Airways, Air New Zealand, American Airlines are among the other carriers that now pay a 1 per cent commission. Meanwhile, Qatar, Delta, Air France, Singapore Airlines, and Lufthansa and many others are still paying 5 per cent. Virgin pays between 2 percent to 4 percent depending on the fare.
A spokesman for the Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) said it was disappointing that some airlines withdrew commissions but praised others for not doing so.
“These airlines continue to take a shared approach to travel agents and businesses in supporting travelers,” an AFTA spokesperson said.
Staff shortages and consequently larger workloads are also contributing to the introduction of service fees, especially as airlines are lowering support such as commissions, the spokesperson added.