On Dec. 21, we told you that American Airlines flights could no longer be booked on Orbitz.com. Now it appears that the conflict is spreading to other popular travel sites and other airlines.
Expedia, the largest online travel site, announced on Jan. 1 that it would no longer offer American Airlines flights on its website. American flights are also no longer available on other Expedia properties, including Hotwire and TripAdvisor.
The moves by the airlines are about money, of course. They want to sell additional services not offered on some travel websites, like priority boarding for an additional fee. They also want to pay less by lowering the fees they pay travel websites.
The move by Expedia to de-list American is apparently retaliation. From an Expedia statement recently emailed to various news outlets…
We have been unable to reach an agreement with American Airlines due to American Airlines’ new commercial strategy that we believe is anti-consumer and anti-choice. American Airlines is attempting to introduce a new direct connect model that will result in higher costs and reduced transparency for consumers, making it difficult to compare American Airlines’ ticket prices and options with offerings by other airlines. American Airlines’ direct connect model is of questionable, if any, benefit to travelers, would be costly to build and maintain and would compromise travel agents’ ability to provide travelers with the best selection.
As a result, the sale of American Airlines flights on our website has been suspended. We remain open to doing business with American Airlines on terms that are satisfactory to Expedia and do not compromise our ability to provide consumers with the products and services they need.
We cannot support efforts that we believe are fundamentally bad for travelers. With or without American Airlines’ inventory, we have a robust supply base and broad array of choices for our customers and we continue to offer hundreds of flight options for the routes served by American Airlines.
Translation? Continue with this foolishness of trying not to pay us, American, and we’ll simply sell our customers tickets on other airlines.
Will American be able make more money by not paying travel websites? Or will the travel websites be able to continue booking fares and making big bucks off the airlines? Who will win this epic battle?
As we said in the recent post about Orbitz, we couldn’t care less. What we do care about, however, is informing you that if you go to Orbitz or Expedia, you won’t see American flights represented, which means you could be paying more or getting a less convenient flight.
These two websites, on the other hand, apparently don’t care much about you, since neither says anything about this on their respective home pages. But since they’ve never told you that low-cost airline Southwest wasn’t on their sites either, I guess they never did.