After a couple of years mulling the merits of making you pay for a mile up Nintendo, the airlines are considering charging passengers who refused to hand over personal data.
Global distribution systems that supply flight and fare data to travel agents and online ticketing services like Orbitz and Expedia, are complaining that airlines are stinging them for fee information in a way that lets them make it handy for consumers trying to find the best deal.
Simon Gros, chairman of the Travel Technology Association, told AP that airlines are want to make sure that a customer does not know how much their ticket will cost until after check out.
Now the Department of Transportation is considering whether to require airlines to provide fee information to everyone with whom they have agreements to sell their tickets. While that deal is being hatched out some airlines are asking the Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court ruling forcing them to include taxes in their advertised fares. They claim that that telling customers how much they have to pay violates their free-speech rights.
According to AP, it is all because the airlines are copying Apple and have come up with a model where punters don’t just buy a ticket, they have a locked in “travel experience”. Airlines want to mine personal data about customers in order to sell them tailored services. They want to use the data to build a walled garden of delights where the customer’s trip is locked in to partners.
If airlines have their way, passengers looking for ticket prices may have to tell the airlines their age, marital status, gender, nationality, travel history and why they are flying.
This would make comparison shopping for the cheapest air fares a thing of the past and if customers don’t hand over the data they could be hit by the sort of fines you get when you have an extra bag containing your sandwiches on Ryan Air.
Perry Flint, a spokesman for the international airline association, said that it was up to individual airlines whether they price fares differently for travellers who don’t provide personal information. However it is starting to look like airlines really want passangers to go by car or train.