The True Cost of an Airline Ticket?


Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at transparency in airline ticket pricing, Google’s map enhancements, and Qatar’s Covid requirements.

Rashaad Jorden

Good morning from Skift. It’s Friday, September 30. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

The US Department of Transportation unveiled a proposal this week to require airlines to display all airfare fees at the time of purchase. While corporations would have a clearer idea about how much they’re spending on travel, Corporate Travel Editor Matthew Parsons dissects the complexity of the proposed rules and technological challenges for business travel.

The proposed requirement would apply to any agents selling flight tickets, including airlines. Ancillary fees earn a huge amount of money for airlines, with some carriers earning more than half of their revenue from selling extras such as bags and seats. An executive at a technology consultancy firm said displaying ancillary fees would benefit corporations because they could use the information for reporting. But he said the industry lacks the technology to display the ancillary fees.

In addition, the Department of Transportation would exempt global distribution systems from the requirement because they don’t sell or display airfares to consumers. Parsons notes global distribution systems play a critical role in business travel since they’re used by travel agencies. The department is also soliciting feedback on whether more entities, such as online travel agencies, should be covered by the proposal.

Next, Google is taking additional steps to enhance the user experience for travel seekers. The tech giant will launch, among other upgrades, a feature in Google Maps predicting future conditions at dozens of major landmarks, reports Executive Editor Dennis Schaal.

Google Maps will debut the predictive technology initially in cities such as San Francisco, Tokyo and London. Scale writes the predictive technology, using past data to predict future behaviors or patterns, could make tour operators and event planners even more dependent on the search engine. An event planner would be able to use the feature to advise guests to gather in a certain location if it was projected to be the most opportune meeting point, for example.

Furthermore, Google has other Google Maps features it’s slated to debut in the near future. One of them would enable users to quickly find dishes they’re interested instead of having to search menus of dozens of restaurants.

We wrap today in Qatar, the host country of soccer’s World Cup this November and December. The Gulf State will require fans coming for the event to produce a negative Covid test upon arrival, reports Editorial Assistant Rashaad Jorden.

Visitors must show a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours before departure or from a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours, the event’s organizers said on Thursday. However, the Qatari government is not requiring World Cup visitors to be vaccinated. An estimated 1.5 million fans are expected to travel to Qatar for the month-long tournament.

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