Sabre Travel Network has devised a way for travelers and travel agents to compare the true costs of flights when factors such as checked-bag fees and preferred seat selection are taken into account. Called Attribute-Based Shopping, the application will be available to consumers and travel management companies in 2009. It will be available both to airlines that are hosted on the Sabre system and to airlines that simply distribute through the Sabre GDS.

"As carriers alter the way they sell their products and services, it becomes a challenge for consumers to find the fare that meets their needs," Kyle Moore, vice president of product narketing for Sabre Travel Network, said. "This is very consumer-friendly."

Airlines will be able to add, subtract or adjust their fees using a Web-based application called Merchandising Manager. Attribute-Based Shopping will empower travel agents to differentiate themselves, Moore said. They will access the solution through MySabre. The solution also will be available to users of GetThere, Sabre's online booking tool for corporate travelers.

Sabre noted that the solution is indicative of the type of innovation that it said will be a hallmark of the new SabreSonic Customer Service System, its "next-generation" reservations and passenger processing platform.

On consumer-facing sites, such as Sabre's Travelocity, users can select an advanced shopping option when they search for flights. They will see a list of options, such as one or two checked bags, inflight meal, preferred seat selection, lounge access and/or insurance, and can tick off the elements that they want to include in their fare searches. The fares shown will adjust accordingly.

The ability to see the true cost of a flight will go a long way toward minimizing consumer angst about the myriad new fees that airlines imposed in the wake of astronomical fuel costs, Moore said. Customers often are unsure of how much a trip will cost until they get to the airport, he said.