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The American Society of Travel Advisors Doubles Down on American Airlines’ Anti-Competitive Behavior

The Society expands its advocacy campaign to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), agencies charged with investigating anti-consumer business practices.


Alexandria, VA, May 9, 2024 —Today, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) followed through on its promise to explore all responsive options in opposition to American Airlines’ monopolistic approach towards the travel agency distribution channel.

This morning, the CFPB and the Department of Transportation (DOT)  hosted a joint hearing on airline and credit card rewards programs. The distinguished panel included DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. Zane Kerby, President & CEO of ASTA, along with Jessie Klement, VP of Advocacy at ASTA, participated in the hearing and delivered  pointed remarks about AA’s anti-competitive behavior.

“Emboldened by no competitive, consumer, or regulatory response, American Airlines decided that customers booking through most travel agencies won’t receive rewards miles for their flights,” said Zane Kerby. Speaking directly to Secretary Buttigieg, Mr. Kerby went on to point out that, “We brought the underlying issue to DOT’s attention through a formal complaint last Fall that remains pending.”

Jessica Klement added, “The so-called criterion for becoming a preferred agency is 30 percent of bookings through NDC, and American is intentionally vague on 30 percent of what – total bookings, revenue, etc… no one knows, including our own members who have been deemed preferred.”

ASTA  firmly maintains the position that American’s monopolistic behavior should be concerning to regulators and lawmakers who value competition and consumer choice. In a  letter submitted today to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan, ASTA highlighted American’s deliberate effort to eliminate distribution competition and put small travel agencies out of business.

“ASTA recently learned that AA requires agencies to sign an egregiously one-sided agreement as a condition of participation as a preferred agency,” the letter states. “Among other things, it permits American to terminate the agency’s preferred status for any reason, or no reason at all, on thirty days’ notice. Practically speaking, the inclusion of this clause means that regardless of an agency’s achievement of the prescribed NDC booking thresholds on the measurement dates (or any other dates AA may arbitrarily choose to use instead), preferred status can be revoked at will at any time.”

While the fundamentals of American's preferred travel agency program appear not to have changed since adjusting its original plan and timeline on April 23, its postponement of the program from May 1 to July 11 was welcome news. This development provided an opportunity for ASTA to continue its work, opposing American Airlines' monopolistic, anti-competitive behavior, as demonstrated from today’s activities.  

Travel advisors and consumers can help by joining the campaign at



Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit our mission statement.  




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