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Will Labor Disputes Disrupt Air Travel?Aired February 7, 2001 - 4:46 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: Labor troubles continue to loom at the nation's four largest airlines, and they are disputes that could lead to crippling strikes this spring and summer. Northwest remains in contract talks with mechanics. United resumes discussions with its mechanics next week. American's flight attendants plan to announce whether they'll strike later this month and pilots at Delta will announce on Friday.
Joining us to discuss the situation is Suzi Levine of the travel Web site Expedia.com.
Mrs. Levine, thanks for joining us.
SUZI LEVINE, EXPEDIA.COM: Thank you for having me.
FRAZIER: Let's get right to the practical information, first. If you're holding tickets for a trip in the spring or the summer, what's the first thing you should do in light of all of this?
LEVINE: Well, the first thing that you should do is make sure that you have happy travels. Beyond that, there's a couple of key things that you as consumer can do. One is to make sure that you stay informed of what's going on. There's news sites, obviously, folks like CNN keeping folks informed.
But by booking through an independent site like Expedia, we also take great pains to make sure that our customers stay informed of the status of their tickets, can always check, and then in the event there is an issue, we do notify customers.
Right now, as a matter of fact on the home page, you'll see that Aer Lingus is having a one-day labor strike. We have a notification on the home page as well as have notified all those customers who may have been effected.
FRAZIER: And we hear a lot about e-tickets these days. In a situation as fluid as this, are you better off with a paper ticket or an electronic ticket?
LEVINE: The benefits of e-tickets, by and large, still outweigh those of paper tickets. But in the event of an impending strike, we will work with consumers to convert their e-tickets to paper tickets. We did this last year. We worked very closely with US Airways when they had their impending but then averted strike. We converted more than 3,000 customers' tickets to paper tickets so that they could use it as currency if they needed to, and fortunately, they didn't need to.
FRAZIER: In other words, you can take those to gate of another carrier and try to get on somebody else's flight?
LEVINE: That is the benefit of paper tickets, but the convenience of e-tickets in advance of any issues that really are arising, are so far and above what the advantages are of paper tickets. We still recommend getting e-tickets and then keeping your ear to the ground as well as contacting us or contacting the airlines to check on ongoing status.
FRAZIER: Now, let's talk about some of the larger issues and the background of all of this, these mergers. There seem to be fewer and fewer carriers every day. It has to be bad for consumers.
LEVINE: Well, historically, you can also look at the positive impact of some of these mergers or alliances. For example, mileage programs have certainly benefited through airline alliances as well as if you look at things like interline ticketing. Plus, I'm sure those folks in St. Louis, those travelers there will be happy when their flights continue to fly if American Airlines does, in fact, buy out TWA.
FRAZIER: Well, Suzi Levine from Expedia.com, we, I'm sure, will be talking to you again as these strikes and mergers play out. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon.
LEVINE: My pleasure, thank you for having me.
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