Airlines Latest Rule: Use It or Lose It

Meetings & Conventions: Newsline newsline.gif (8042 bytes)   COMPANIES BEMOAN CLAMPDOWN ON NONREFUNDABLE TICKETS
Airlines’ Latest Rule: “Use It or Lose It”
Will the new ticket policy "cripple" hopes for travel rebound? The airlines have once again proved they are an industry that moves in lockstep. On Aug. 27, Arlington, Va.-based US Airways gave notice that, among sweeping changes, nonrefundable tickets not used at the specified departure time would be worthless.

The airline was immediately criticized by the Radnor, Pa.-based Business Travel Coalition as an attempt to drive business travelers back to refundable tickets, which cost, on average, about three times as much as nonrefundable fares, according to findings by American Express.

Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the BTC, warned that the policy will backfire on the airline by alienating its business customers and forcing them to shift to low-fare airlines.

But by the end of the following week, American, Continental, Delta and United had adopted similar policies.

Such a match is not without precedent. When Delta ended base commissions for travel agents this past March, other carriers followed suit.

Suzanne Fletcher, director of travel and meetings at Weyerhaeuser in Federal Way, Wash., and the aviation committee chair for the National Business Travel Association, predicts the changes will have a major impact on firms like hers that purchased volumes of nonrefundables expecting they could receive credits.

For its part, US Airways said it simply adopted the same policy found at Broadway shows: If you miss the event, the ticket is not good for the next day.

But Mitchell noted that unlike airlines, theaters neither overbook nor resell seats. Show-ticket holders also have the option of reselling their seats if they can’t make it.

Bruce Tepper, vice president of the San Francisco-based travel consulting firm Joselyn, Tepper & Associates Inc., doubts the new policies will impact business travel as severely as the current hassle factor or the slow economy.

Mitchell, however, says the policies “will cripple any hope of a rebound in business travel demand in 2002 or 2003.”

Sheila Kittle, vice president of corporate travel at Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg, Fla., has already begun analyzing when it is worth buying unrestricted tickets. “It’s definitely changing the way we do business,” she said.


What Association Executives Earn The gender gap in earnings grows in relation to size of organization, according to a 2001 compensation survey. Male CEOs Female CEOs Trade association $136,775 $92,125 Individual membership association $139,241 $85,204 Total staff size: 2 or fewer $75,000 $60,000 3 to 5 $95,640 $77,000 6 to 10 $116,550 $108,000 11 to 20 $138,200 $126,000 21 to 50 $201,923 $159,280 51 to 100 $237,900 $145,518 More than 100 $287,600 $249,233 Total annual budget: $300,000 or less $67,600 $54,789 $300,001 to $500,000 $75,600 $68,579 $500,001 to $750,000 $90,000 $72,800 $750,001 to $1 million $102,000 $87,525 $1,000,001 to $2.5 million $118,800 $112,425 $2,500,001 to $5 million $170,000 $137,100 $5,000,001 to $10 million $227,750 $160,585 $10,000,001 to $15 million $225,994 $171,750 More than $15 million $285,000 $256,269 Source: American Society of Association Executives

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