Travel agents are asking Congress to prevent United Airlines' parent from forcing some to pay credit card processing fees on ticket purchases.

UAL Corp. said in June that its transaction expenses have risen to "several hundred million dollars" annually. United had planned to begin levying the fees last month, but later extended the date by 60 days.

Some agents will have to absorb the costs when customers buy with Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc., American Express Co. and other cards. Ten states including California and New York bar agents from passing along to consumers the card surcharges, Paul Ruden, the senior vice president for legal and industry affairs for the American Society of Travel Agents, said in an interview last month.

"Because the impact is potentially on millions of American travelers, it seems to us this is a matter of great public interest," Ruden said.

The Alexandria, Va., trade group is spearheading a call for congressional hearings aimed at preventing UAL and other airlines from demanding the fees.

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