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Travelocity levies fee on United tickets

Responding to some airlines' decision to nix travel agents' commissions on ticket sales, the Web travel site begins charging United Airlines customers a $10 fee to book flights.

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Travelocity has begun charging customers a $10 "service fee" to book flights on United Airlines, the company confirmed Monday.

The move is a response to the elimination of the commissions issued to travel agents for selling airline tickets. Virtually all the major airlines have eliminated the base commissions they paid travel agents.

Travelocity has imposed fees on other carriers that have eliminated commissions, levying a $10 surcharge on Northwest Airlines and KLM flights. The company later reached marketing agreements with those airlines and eliminated the fees, a company representative said.

The representative for Travelocity, who asked not to be named, said the company is "in the business of providing value to our customers and suppliers," and that "most airlines recognize this value." Travelocity is in negotiations with United to resolve the issue, the representative said.

Travelocity isn't the only one fighting back: The American Society of Travel Agents last week urged members to stop handling refunds or ticket exchanges for Delta Air Lines. Delta was the first carrier to eliminate the commissions.

Expedia.com, a Travelocity competitor, took a different tack over the weekend, pushing United flights down on the results page after customers conducted searches.

Suzi LeVine, director of product marketing at Expedia, would not say whether the site had intentionally altered results, but she did say that "now that is not the case." She declined to say whether Expedia had signed a new deal with United.

A spokesman for United said the airline is in negotiations with both Travelocity and Expedia but could not comment further.

Other online agencies have been able to sidestep fees. Expedia said last October that it had reached an agreement with Continental Airlines, although it would not release details. Travelocity said at the time that it would continue to sell Continental flights and would not charge customers an additional fee.

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