NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- Hold onto your wallet. Giant German carrier Lufthansa - a top ten global airline by any measure - recently announced it will whack fliers who use online channels other than Lufthansa’s to book a flight with a 16 euro fee (approximately $18).
In a statement, Lufthansa said the fee will kick in on September 1, and it explained the fee as its way to recoup costs it incurred in allowing third parties to book through its digital channels. Lufthansa accordingly calls the surcharge DCC, which it explained means Distribution Cost Charge.
The big questions: Will you pay it? Are there ways around it? Will other carriers follow?
For starters: breathe easy. Industry sources indicated that so far there are no indications that Lufthansa flights booked via the United Airlines (UAL) site will be assessed the fee, and, for North American travelers, that is where many Lufthansa flights (code-shared with United) are in fact booked.
Lufthansa, in its statement, itemized where else consumers can book tickets without incurring fees: “This predominately [sic] includes the airlines’ websites (www.LH.com, www.swiss.com, www.austrian.com, www.brusselsairlines.com), as well as the service center and ticket counter at the airports.”
In at least some cases, tickets booked via travel agents, as well as Lufthansa corporate customers, will not incur the surcharge.
U.S. travel agents and corporate travel managers are nonetheless not happy.