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Travel Agents Wary Of Joining Protest

Most travel agents were on the job Friday, despite calls by some agencies for a boycott to protest the airline industry’s decision to cap agency commissions.

The one-day boycott was intended to swamp the airlines with ticket requests from customers and demonstrate the need for agents. But most agents did not participate, fearing such a move could only hurt future business.

“As wonderful as the sound of a protest may be,” said Steve Loucks, spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents, “most agents don’t want to risk losing customers.”

About half the agents in the Spokane area participated in the protest, said Terri Seidel, an agent at Cruises & Travel of Spokane. Some of the agents her agency contacted about the protest hadn’t even heard about the controversy, which was alarming, she said.

Local agencies with corporate contracts stand to be hurt the most, she said. Business tickets are often the most expensive, and a flat $50 commission would cost those agencies thousands of dollars they would usually get from 10 percent commissions.

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