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AIRLINE DOUBLES FEES BUT FINDS IT ACTED ALONE

Northwest Airlines on Monday doubled the fee it charges leisure passengers to change flights or switch their tickets to get a better discount, but its competitors didn't go along.

The industry tried last month to raise the $25 fee to $50 but failed when some airlines refused to adopt broader fare increases.Northwest's increase, effective last Friday, applies only to advance purchase non-refundable tickets, most commonly used by tourists.

Delta Air Lines spokesman Neil Monroe said the airline has no plans to match the increase. Other airlines, including American and United, said they were studying it.

Northwest also increased the amount it pays to travel agents for reissuing tickets from $5 to $15.

"The $50 fee comes closer to covering the actual cost of reissuing, and it will be revenue positive for airlines as well as for travel agents," Michael E. Levine, Northwest's marketing head, said in a statement. Spokesman Doug Miller said the airline had not calculated the exact cost of reissuing a ticket.

Aside from the administrative costs, changes by leisure travelers foul airlines' complicated system of keeping precisely the correct number of seats available for expected last-minute ticket purchases at full price.

When a tourist changes flights, it makes one seat available that the airline might not be able to sell and takes up a seat that might have been filled by a business traveler.

Airlines first gave travelers the right to make changes to non-refundable tickets this spring. It started when American tried to set up a simpler fare structure and others followed suit.

During the summer, when each week seemed to bring a new fare promotion, many tourists paid the $25 to switch to a lower fare.