Last updated: 10:45 AM ET, Fri January 17 2014

ASTA Warns of Flaw in American Airlines-US Airways Codeshare Deal

Airlines & Airports American Airlines Ryan Rudnansky January 17, 2014

ASTA Warns of Flaw in American Airlines-US Airways Codeshare Deal

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) announced a large discrepancy in the price of code-share flights between American Airlines and US Airways Thursday.

In the new codeshare deal between the two airlines, the price of code-share flights varies by more than double, according to ASTA.  

“Since a consumer using the Internet on her own may not discover the discrepancy, it is especially important that travel agents remain vigilant about these price discrepancies and act to protect their clients from overpaying,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA President & Chief Operating Officer. 

These concerns are in addition to the mandatory disclosures of codeshares required by Department of Transportation regulations, which was addressed by ASTA in a member alert on Jan. 14.

In one of the reports ASTA responded to, an unnamed American spokesperson said the price discrepancies will stop when the carriers adopt “common technology platforms.”  There is no current information on when that may happen. The technology integrations of other large merging airlines have often been plagued with problems, so this issue may last a while, according to ASTA.

Kerby pointed to the development as yet another reason why working with travel agents can save travelers from overpaying unknowingly.

“The evidence continues to grow that in our ever-more complex marketplace, having a guide and mentor, someone to watch your back, is essential,” Kerby said. “This incident makes it even clearer that ‘Without a Travel Agent, You’re on Your Own.’”

ASTA members represent more than 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States.

The announcement from ASTA comes after Aash Shravah, director of corporate sales and corporate services for Montrose Travel, revealed some high-priced, hands-on results of the codeshares on Montrose's Corporate Travel Insider site.

Shravah pointed out that American's recent announcement of 50 percent bonus miles for booking U.S. Airways flights as a deceptive practice. When you book the U.S. Airways flight on American's website, you end up paying more than twice as much.

His research pointed to one flight between Boston and New York LaGuardia as a key example. The Jan. 29 flight was listed on American's website as a $232 flight while listed on U.S. Airways' site as a $99 flight.

American responded by saying that the company is working to correct any issues as quickly as possible and that it is an unfortunate result of two companies working to meld their technology while still trying to operate daily.

"Once American and US Airways adopt common technology platforms, these differences will cease," an American spokesman said via e-mail. "We are striving to minimize discrepancies while delivering as much benefit to customers as we can before this technology migration is complete." 

Tim Wood contributed to this report.