ATLANTA -- Everyone thinks they know how to find the best airfares possible. They check various websites and compare prices or use other secret methods. However, now the airline industry wants to make dramatic changes in how travelers buy tickets. And some say it's going to lead to higher fares for customers.
Resolution 787, also referred to as the New Distribution Capacity, was recently presented to the Department of Transportation (DOT) by the Airline Industry asking for regulatory approval.
And what is Resolution 787? You can read it here -- but it's a long, list of technical changes that may end with consumer paying for air travel accommodations.
The resolution purposes that airlines start with a round of personal questions before they offer you a price. They claim the new measures are an effort to better serve customers.
"Unfortunately in the indirect channel there is no way for the airline to know who the customer is until the reservation has been made. Therefore if you are entitled to say a free bag or an upgrade to a roomier economy seat the airline doesn't know until they become aware of who it is who bought the ticket," Perry Flint Corporate Communications Director for International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.
If approved what questions can the airlines ask?
The list is long but some of them are: your name, age, marital status, frequent flyer numbers, the type of customer you are, your travel history, shopping history, previously purchased services, travel dates, trip type, even nationality.
And in their filing the IATA says "Data may include, but not be limited to: And after receiving your characteristics the airline would quote you a price with bundled service products."
But some in the travel industry aren't completely sold on the idea.
"It has the potential for being very bad," Snellville travel agent Lawton Roberts said. Apart from privacy concerns Roberts sees this as a way for the airline industry to gain more power over pricing.
"It will make it more difficult for you to shop. To comparison shop. That's the important point here. It would make it more difficult because of the absence of published fares that are out there for anyone to purchase now. That won't be the case potentially in the future," Roberts said.
Flint insists you will still be able to shop anonymously but leaving consumers wondering if they're really getting the best deal if they don't give the airline all of their information.
And Roberts says the new plan would cost business and frequent fliers the most because they are already less price sensitive.
You have until April 1, 2013 to make a public comment to the Department Of Transportation. If you would like to you need to go to www.regulations.gov and enter the docket number: DOT-OST-2013-0048 for this filing.