Sabre is charging agencies that exceed 105 hits for each reservation. Apollo initially proposed to a 66 keystroke limit, travel agents said, but is now allowing up to 100 hits. The reservation systems are charging between a cent and a cent-and-a-half for each electronic inquiry over the limit.
Not every agent finds the new limits easy to live with. Boston-based Woodside Travel said some agents in highly competitive markets, such as Los Angeles, exceed the new keystroke thresholds manually because there are so many airlines to check.
"Our reaction was, what does Sabre have to complain about?" Executive Vice President Nancy Barros asked. "It's like, excuse me. . . ."
Barros said that after she protested, Sabre agreed to take a look at the limit.
The reservation systems say their limits aren't hurting the travel agencies. A spokeswoman for Sabre said only two dozen of the 14,000 travel agencies on Sabre's network got bills in excess of $50. An Apollo spokesman said the reservation system hasn't billed anyone yet and is easing the new limits in as it renegotiates contracts with travel agencies.