Sabre Travel Network sent an e-mail letter to subscribers warning that American Airlines had "threatened" some travel agents with a new fee of $5.50 per segment booked through a GDS.

Sabre said American made the threat to the agencies "through a new 'Content Commitment Policy,' which would essentially force them to either accept AA's one-off, fragmented approach" -- its direct-connect strategy -- "or face the consequences: less than full content through the GDS and a new fee.”

American characterized its actions in different terms.

"Since Sabre announced in January that it intended to remove American's fares from its system, our sales team has been visiting with our agency and corporate partners to inform them about options to continue to get American's content, should Sabre or another GDS disrupt or remove it," a spokesman said in an e-mail response.

"In addition, we've told agencies about how American will adjust our existing Source Premium Policy to accommodate expected changes in our GDS agreements later this summer."

American's Source Premium Policy was first enacted in 2006, when it was negotiating GDS contract renewals. It applies a surcharge to all bookings made through systems not deemed “competitive” by the carrier.

The list of "Competitive Booking Sources" has changed from time to time. The current list, updated Oct. 1, 2010, includes Sabre Efficient Access Solution; Worldspan Super Access Product; Galileo Content Continuity Program; all Farelogix GDS products, and any Amadeus GDS product.

Bookings made through any other Sabre, Worldspan or Galileo/Apollo product or program incur a "Source Premium per Net Booked Segment" of $5.50.