Despite intense backlash from booking sites and travel agencies, the German airline Lufthansa is now charging users more for bookings made outside direct channels.
As of September 1, travellers who do not buy their tickets through Lufthansa's website or at airport ticket counters will be paying an additional fee of 16 euros (about $18). The German Travel Association (DRV) criticizes the surcharge, saying it will increase costs for the clients, while decreasing efficiency and transparency.
Due to legal restrictions, the fee will not apply to bookings in Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Iran, Libya, New Zealand or Yemen.
So far, 70 percent out of all Lufthansa flights have been booked through a global distribution system (GDS), which cooperates with booking sites and travel agencies. In that case, Lufthansa itself has to pay an 18-euro fee. When bookings are made through their own website or at airport ticket counters, the company is only charged 2 euros a flight. The airline said it wanted to use the new extra charge to reobtain the difference of 16 euros.
In the meantime, the DRV has asked the German Federal Cartel Office to check whether the new fee discriminates against travel agencies. The European Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Association has also filed a complaint at the European Commission.
cd / ej / eg (dpa, afp)