On The Spot: Changes May Be Coming To Airline Ticket Booking

On The Spot: Changes May Be Coming To Airline Ticket Booking.

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that online travel agency Orbitz showed different and more expensive hotel options to Mac users, who presumably represent a wealthier demographic. “The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people’s online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information — in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac — to start predicting their tastes and spending habits,” reporter Dana Mattioli wrote in a story that refers to the practice as “predictive analytics.”

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On The Spot: Changes May Be Coming To Airline Ticket Booking

If you book an airline ticket through an online site or go to a travel agent, you get the ticket price and, thanks to recent U.S. Department of Transportation rulings, that price includes taxes and fees. What you don’t get — at least, not yet — is a price that includes ancillary fees (baggage, early boarding, seat choices), but consumer advocates are working toward that. But the changes in store for ticket booking may be even greater. Booking could be the all-new Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Or not.

The International Air Transport Assn., based in Montreal, is working on what it calls a “new distribution capability” for global distribution systems, which deliver airline ticket prices and schedules, whether you’re a consumer using an online engine or a travel agent doing a search for a client. If your eyes glaze over at that sentence, grab some coffee because the results of this change will be anything but dull.

Under the new model, you’ll see the price of your ticket as well as other things too — a sort of Amazon.com shopping experience — “a lot of new things around merchandising,” said Eric Leopold, director passenger (yes, that’s his title) of the international transport group. The new system “will really show the value of the products so you’re not just selling seats; you’re selling a whole experience to the passenger,” he said, referring to those things that are often covered by ancillary fees such as upgrades.

Leopold likened the experience to supermarket shopping. Some consumers “will buy what is on the bottom [shelf at the] lowest price,” he said. “Some will buy in the middle shelves,” which may cost more but may be a better value.

What IATA calls a “new distribution capability,” however, the American Society of Travel Agents is calling “authenticated shopping,” which means you tell a little about yourself (maybe your frequent-flier number or your ZIP Code) and you are offered products that are tailored for you, such as lounge passes and preferred seating. These bundled, or one-price offerings, may be based on your previous travel habits and purchases (Do you upgrade? Do you spend time in the executive lounge?) or your economic status (Do you live in a ZIP Code that’s “price sensitive”?) or other factors you may not be aware of.

That’s an issue for the national travel agents organization, said Paul Ruden, senior vice president for legal and industry affairs for ASTA. “The concern is with how you do business … in an environment where airlines are able to price discriminate, for example, based on your identity,” he said.

IATA says it isn’t using this proposed system to inflate consumers’ costs by foisting off pricier offerings on certain demographic groups. Ruden, who has worked with the Department of Transportation to try to get price transparency for airline pricing — not only fees and taxes but also ancillary fees — is not so sure.

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that online travel agency Orbitz showed different and more expensive hotel options to Mac users, who presumably represent a wealthier demographic. “The Orbitz effort, which is in its early stages, demonstrates how tracking people’s online activities can use even seemingly innocuous information — in this case, the fact that customers are visiting Orbitz.com from a Mac — to start predicting their tastes and spending habits,” reporter Dana Mattioli wrote in a story that refers to the practice as “predictive analytics.”

IATA and ASTA will sit down next month to discuss the possible changes, whatever they’re called. ASTA says it’s unclear on some of the mechanics of the process and is worried about the potential damage to its hard-won victories on ticket price transparency. IATA thinks the new system is merely a new way to display other offerings from the airlines in a way that the current systems — which IATA says are outdated — don’t allow.

Courtesy: latimes.com

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Benefits of India Travel Card

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Are you planning your summer tour across the seas? If Yes! You spend time on planning your tour. You must give yourself a time to think about money management too.

Of course! You do carry your travelers’ cheques internationally. Sometimes, your traveler’s cheques do not work out in every country when you are in medical emergency because you definitely need some cash. For instance, you need to deposit cash at very point when you are at the admission counter of any Indian hospital, though you can use credit cards but it does not work out every time. For roadside rail and tram rides or for expenses such as hotel payment or car rentals, credit cards are there to help you out in making payments against such bills. For other expenses, you can carry a pre-paid travel card.

Pre-paid travel card can be loaded from your respective banks. Banks like ICICI, Axis, and American Express etc. load your travel card in India with different currencies. When you load your travel card, you lock into the exchange rate prevalent on the day you buy the card. Axis Bank claims that it is the first Indian Bank to launch such secured prepaid card instrument in India. With this card, the traveler can avoid issues such as loss of currency, thefts, frequent currency fluctuations and also access Indian rupees anytime, anywhere without having to find a money changer/branch.

US dollar is widely accepted currency across the world. You have to shell out more for every dollar if rupee is depreciating. You have to pay currency conversion charges every time you swipe your credit/debit card. On the other hand, it is only one time charges you have to pay for travel card. Several Banks give offer for travel cards with different services. You don’t need to have an account with such banks from which you are availing the services of travel card. It is your choice to choose the best one which meets your demands.

Skimming crime is registered highly in many countries. You swipe your Debit/Credit card frequently when you are travelling. Skimmers keep an eye on such transactions in which the huge amount is involved. The chip cards can stay you away from such skimmers. You can always load limited money in your travel card which comes with in-built chips. In that case, skimmers cannot read the data of your card easily.

In case your travel card is lost or compromised. Some banks such as Axis and Kotak issue the back-up/secondary card it can be activated immediately in case you lose your primary card.

Bank refunds the balance amount once your journey ends or you are ready to back your home. You can get your refunds from any of banks’ outlet. Axis India Travel Card is available over 1,600 Bank branches and also at reputed Money Changers in the country, who has network of more than 400 branches at key tourist locations

Banks offer many features with these travel cards including shopping, buying Air/Train tickets, hotel booking. Cosmic Travel Hub provides free Axis Bank India Travel Card which is a VISA signature based prepaid card loaded upfront with encashment of foreign currency in the form of currency notes and travelers cheques. If you book your tour with cosmic travel hub then you don’t have to pay extra charges for such India travel cards.

How it works if you book your tour with cosmic travel hub?

  • COSMIC TRAVEL HUB will introduce India Travel Card to their guest traveler. The representative from COSMIC TRAVEL HUB will inform the key features to every guest traveler about the travel card
  • COSMIC TRAVEL HUB will guide the traveler to nearest Axis Bank branch to avail the travel card services
  • Axis Bank branch will ask the traveler to fill up the application form and submit the necessary documents like passport and VISA copy.
  • After verification of the document submitted by the traveler, branch will collect the Foreign Currency Notes or Travellers Cheque from the customer and handover physical card to the traveler
  • The branch will arrange to encash the Foreign Currency Notes or Travellers Cheques at applicable exchange rate. The equivalent INR amount will be loaded after deducting necessary issuance and loading fees.
  • You can load up to Rs. 50,000/- on the card at any point of time
  • The balance will be refunded in Indian Rupees at any branch of Axis Bank whenever required.
  • You can change your PIN at over 10,000 Axis bank ATMs, for added security.
  • A 24-Hour Customer Service number is available so you can report any lost card and issue a duplicate ATM PIN.
  • Indian Travel Card is provided to travelers as a value added services by cosmic travel hub.