No war footing from travel sites yet

No war footing from travel sites yet

By Mark Chillingworth

Travel commerce Web sites in Australia are not preparing for an armada of cancellations yet. As the US gears itself up for its invasion of Iraq, the online travel industry has swung into war room mode and has begun to offer up to the minute travel news and is offering to be flexible with cancellation charges on flight bookings.

In the US major travel e-commerce sites such as, and have reacted to their President's call for a war by setting up information centres with details of industry policy in response to the likely US led invasion, which Australia will participate in. Travelcity's information centre is also offering travellers details on airline security, the status of flights and travel trends.

Australian sites are waiting to see if the war does take place and how airline companies will react to the invasion.

"I will go with what ever the airlines do; when they become flexible, we will. It is based on them as they impose the high cancellation fees," said Helen Demetriou the general manager of product at "We ignored cancellation fees after September 11.

"We normally put something on the home site," she said. said that it had no plans at the moment and it was hard to say what plans will be formulated until something does happen.

"We would probably be talking to all of our suppliers," said Haydon Lang, a spokesperson for Flight Centre. All the sites said that no cancellation wavering can be offered until the airlines announce their plans in response to the war. United Airlines, the US based airline struggling against bankruptcy, has stated that customers who tickets are issued after March 31 can postpone their flights, whilst other passengers will be able to re-schedule the value of the ticket to another United Airlines flight.

"There have been no discussions at this stage, we are waiting for Qantas and the Asian airlines, no one is talking about it yet - people will react on the day," Ms Demetriou said.

The Australian sites said that they and the airlines reacted quickly to the September 11 attack on the US and the Bali bombing by offering travellers the chance to change their flights or cancel and they expect this to be the case if the US does attack Iraq.

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