Air France and Virgin bosses say air travel can not be sold as a commodity - something that is same no matter who produces it.
Henri Hourcade, general manager of Air France in the UK, and Virgin Atlantic's Paul Wait, general manager, global MNA and UK sales, were speaking at a session on the treatment of air travel as a commodity, at the Business Travel Market.
Hourcade cited a number of reasons as to why Air France's product couldn't be treated as the same as others'.
"There are a lot of differentiators," he said, such as flat beds in premium classes, the airline's decision to concentrate on a regional network, and an all-inclusive approach to service.
Wait said Virgin doesn't think of air travel as a commodity, as there are huge differences between the services airlines offer. But, he said, "why do large numbers of buyers treat it like one?".
Hourcade defended Air France's decision to sell flights on Ebay, which had led to claims the airline was selling its flights as a commodity.
He said the flights were for the new A380 service to New York, and it was purely a promotional exercise.
Kyle Moore, Sabre's VP marketing, agreed with the airline chiefs, but said shopping for travel has become very difficult.
With bundling and unbundling, it has become unclear at the point of sale what is included and what is not. It needs to be "better managed," he said.
Sabre announced this week its new Sabre Red reservation system, which it hopes will give agents more information on airline charges.