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TRAVEL WEEKLY REPORTS 'UNPRECEDENTED UPROAR' OVER AIR FARES

 TRAVEL WEEKLY REPORTS 'UNPRECEDENTED UPROAR' OVER AIR FARES
 NEW YORK, June 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The public's giddy rush to buy cheap air tickets before tomorrow's deadline has travel agents overwhelmed and has raised serious questions about the long-term economic impact on both the airlines and the 35,000 travel agencies that book airline tickets.
 According to today's Travel Weekly, the leading travel industry newspaper, the nation's travel agents feel "bitter outrage" over chaotic conditions created by the domestic airlines' half-price fares and vow to fight back "with any means at their disposal."
 Alan Fredericks, editor-in-chief of Travel Weekly, called the reaction "unprecedented" and "verging on hysteria."
 "The anger among the trade is the strongest and most vocal I can recall in the 25 years I've been in the industry," said Fredericks.
 "It's not an overstatement to say that reaction is verging on hysteria," he added. "There was a call on my voice mail made at 1:30 this morning from an agent in Ohio who was near tears, buried under the paperwork of the last few days. The volume and the degree of agent reaction is unprecedented."
 Travel Weekly quotes agents' reaction. Typical was that of Rex Fritschi, owner of Rex Travel in Chicago: "We're tired, disgusted and filled with rage that for decades we have been the impotent whipping boy of certain uncaring, greedy and irresponsible suppliers."
 The focus of the anger, according to Travel Weekly, is the fact that agents are having to rebook tickets that were previously purchased at higher fares. The procedure results in considerable paperwork, and usually requires agents to make commission refunds to the airlines. Some airlines are now waiving commission refunds for a time in an effort to placate agents.
 But according to Fredericks, the uproar goes far beyond paperwork and commissions. "Suppliers, and the airlines particularly, make pre- emptive decisions that apparently don't take the retailer -- who must deal with a relatively unsophisticated public -- into account.
 "Agents' lifeblood is new business and satisfied customers. These recent events have made them unable to book new business, because they're re-doing tickets they previously sold, and it has upset many of their customers, because they're discovering the technical roadblocks in the system that make reissuing tickets impossible."
 On that point, the travel industry newspaper quoted Michigan agent Gail Shapiro of Summit Travel and Cruise Shoppe in Farmington Hills: "Try explaining to the client why they cannot get a reissue with a refund....They don't care whether their fare is in K or V or XYZ. They want the lower fare."
 To make matters worse, agents reported, the airline computer systems were shutting down periodically throughout the week, as the airlines dealt with overloads in their systems, and some agencies even ran out of airline ticket stock.
 -0- 6/4/92
 /CONTACT: Alan Fredericks, editor, 201-902-1565, or Isae Wada, aviation editor, 201-902-1582, both of Travel Weekly/ CO: Travel Weekly ST: New Jersey IN: PUB LEI SU:


PS -- NY083 -- 7264 06/04/92 18:14 EDT
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Date:Jun 4, 1992
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