Airlines passengers are getting scammed left and right by fake Google listings for airlines. People think they’re calling the airline and get called by a travel agency impersonating them, with big fees they shouldn’t be paying, and – unbeknownst them – for tickets that violate airline rules and could get cancelled.
American Airlines sued the ‘host agency’ for many of these scammers.
They get wholesale rates, and get paid by the airline based on sales volumes, and American says they’re running up their numbers by partnering with sketchy agencies and taking a cut of their fee scams. For instance, one of these agents “charged a flyer $1,500 for what should have been an airfare of around $1,000, and GTT allegedly helped its travel agency partner “hide the additional $500 charge.”
- American says they’re obligated to monitor the activities of sub-agencies, and not only do they fail to do this they refused to share information about them with American despite a contractual obligation to do so.
- And according to American, the agency booked 20 passengers to fly Dallas to Shanghai on American with an onward connection to Hong Kong. 17 of those passengers were on throwaway bookings, where GTT kept the savings by booking the Hong Kong connection and didn’t tell the passengers.
- In another example a customer was billed a “tax fee” of $400 (this does not exist!) on top of a $1,086 ticket. GTT failed to stop it, but had an obligation to do so according to the airline.
- Customers who think they’re reaching American get redirected and then fleeced. American loses money (for instance due to throwaway ticketing and also paying out commissions) and consumers lose money (by getting stuck with scam fees). Customers are apparently even being charged “wheelchair fees” by the agencies.
The agency, GTT, has responded to all of this. And they say it is… racist? Here’s their counterclaim.
- They claim scammers are rife throughout the industry, they’re not the only one!
- American has cited only a handful of specific examples of scams in its filings. Scams are only a small part of their business.
- And the airline singled out “the only minority, woman-owned and operated consolidator in the industry.” GTT wants “a finding of violations of federal racial discrimination statutes.”
Previously a GTT representative told me that American is blaming “the industry’s operational deficiencies on its business partners and others.” But it seems like what it’s doing is trying to clean up those deficiencies!
While “GTT values the company’s decades-long relationship with American and” wants to keep selling American Airlines tickets, maybe the emphasis ought to be on the victims of the travel scams run through their systems, rather than claiming they themselves are the victim?