© Lufthansa
June 03, 2015

Lufthansa is adding a $17.80 surcharge for all flights booked outside of Lufthansa’s direct websites, ticket counters, and service centers. The announcement, made yesterday, is a result of the “three digit million euros” the airline claims to have lost to global distribution systems like Amadeus and Travelport.

Tickets purchased through online travel agencies (OTAs) will be subjected to the ancillary cost, in an attempt to disrupt the “value chain” in which service partners profit from the fees airlines must pay to supply their data.

“We believe the market is ready for this change,” said Jens Bischof, Lufthansa’s chief commercial officer, during a media conference call.

GDS companies have called the charge a “penalty,” placed on travelers for using convenient and transparent channels that aggregate fares from numerous carriers.

Lufthansa, however, is not the first airline to attempt to break ties with metasearch engines. Over decade ago, U.S.-based Northwest Airlines attempted to impose a similar fee, but reversed the policy after harsh criticism from a number of groups, such as travel agents. More recently, Delta began pulling its flight data from aggregators such as Hipmunk and Routehappy.

This could, in fact, be the spark of a major airline revolution again OTA and GDS services: a movement that could make convenience and value mutually exclusive. Until then, consumers booking with Lufthansa must decide whether price or expedience is of greater importance.

Stay tuned for more updates on the great ticket fare battle.

Melanie Lieberman is the assistant digital editor at T+L. Follow her on Twitter at @melanietaryn.

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