How Well Can Companies Manage Airline Fees?

So I've been asking some more nosy questions about how well companies are managing travel. This time we are looking at airline fees that have been unbundled from base fares. The corporate travel industry is struggling to deal with them in a way that is a) standardized for data collection and tracking but b) individualized for airlines that may want to merchandise their services in unique ways. Travel managers and their companies are struggling to deal with these fees, period.

Asking 337 webinar registrants for's upcoming event "Coming Unbundled: Airline Fees and Managed Travel" to estimate what percent of their air spend was devoted to fees in 2009, here's what I have discovered.

* 6.8 percent estimate fees to make up 10 to 15 percent of their air spend
* Only 2 percent peg fees at 15 to 25 percent of air spend
* Another 2 percent estimate that fees represent more than 25 percent of their company's total air spend
* 23 percent say spend dedicated to fees is more moderate at 5 to 10 percent
* 31 percent say fees are fairly low, representing less than 5 percent of total air spend

You may notice that the numbers above add up to only about 65 percent of our webinar registrants so far. So what gives?

The largest percent of our current registrants responded that they do not have enough information even to give an estimate of how much money their companies are spending on airline fees. According to the National Business Travel Association's "2010 U.S. Business Travel Buyers' Cost Forecast," fees could hike base airline fares up by as much as 30 percent, depending on the airline and the itinerary.

With our webinar sponsor MasterCard Worldwide, has gathered a stellar panel of industry experts to discuss the problems presented by unbundled airline fees to corporate travel programs as well as possible solutions.

If you are interested in joining Continental Airlines' Cyndi Hunter, MasterCard Worldwide's Jesal Meswani, Ingersoll Rand's Tom Barrett and Oracle Corporation's Rita Visser for this free-form discussion, there is still time to register.

Go to for more info. I'm excited to have these folks on board, and it promises to be a great conversation.