American Airlines will not charge fees when travel counselors call sales support for help, a press official confirmed. This was an open question when AA in February described NDC-specific support capabilities it intended to offer travel management companies.
AA does charge $50 to travelers who are not AAdvantage Executive Platinum or ConciergeKey members when they call a reservations center for voluntary changes to bookings originally made through third-parties.
TMCs expect to need more help when their usual routines for customer support are upended due to AA’s shift to direct and NDC-based distribution.
Members of the AA support team for agent assistance “have received modern retailing training as we would do with any update to our products and services we introduce into the market,” according to the AA spokesperson. “We do not charge a fee to access our Sales Support team.”
AA has “invested in building robust post-ticketing servicing capabilities in our modern retailing technology for agents to service these transactions. Through modern retailing, we expect our travel agency partners to provide servicing to our customers who transact through indirect channels.”
AA’s NDC API includes functionality for exchanges, cancellations and refunds. It does not support exchanges of tickets issued through traditional connections for those ordered using NDC, or vice versa.
At least one TMC, Direct Travel, had been telling clients AA might charge a fee for agent calls. “We have not been given clarity as to potential charges and how those charges will be levied, likely due to staff turnover at AA,” according to a spokesperson.
A Travel Weekly article last week quoted several travel agency leaders on how AA’s recent staff reductions made it tough for them to get answers. “There’s nobody remaining,” said Jay Ellenby, president of Safe Harbors Business Travel.