Expedia Inc., the online travel site, said it changed the way it displays fares for AMR Corp.’s American Airlines, two days after the carrier pulled flights from Orbitz Worldwide Inc. as part of a legal dispute.
Prices for American flights no longer are displayed at the top of the screen when passengers search for tickets, while the prices for competitors such as United Continental Holdings Inc. are still shown the way they usually are.
“This has been done in light of both American Airlines’ recent decision to prevent Orbitz from selling its inventory, and a possible disruption in Expedia’s ability to sell American Airlines tickets when our contract with American Airlines expires,” Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia said in an e- mailed statement.
Searching for a ticket from American’s hometown hub at Dallas-Fort Worth airport to its Chicago hub in the first week of January shows a nonstop United flight for $282 and one by US Airways Group Inc. for $511, with a message that says “see below” for American information.
Passengers must then click through outbound and return flight times before seeing the price of the American ticket. Ryan Mikolasik, a spokesman for American, didn’t immediately have a comment.
American, based in Fort Worth, Texas, pulled its flights from Orbitz on Dec. 21 after an Illinois state court in Chicago lifted a temporary restraining order granted last month that prevented the airline from doing so. Orbitz is partly owned by Travelport LP, which distributes airline fare data.
American has developed a system called Direct Connect that provides fare pricing and options directly to larger online travel agencies. The carrier also is trying to drive more bookings through its own website at AA.com.
“American Airlines has shown it only intends to do business with travel agencies through a new model that is anti- consumer and anti-choice,” Expedia said the statement. “We cannot support efforts that we believe are fundamentally bad for travelers.”
“We believe American Airlines’ proposed direct connect model will result in higher costs and reduced transparency for consumers, making it difficult to compare AA ticket prices and options with offerings by other airlines,” Expedia said.
Sabre Holdings Corp., the parent of Travelocity.com, said in a Dec. 21 statement that American’s actions will “make it much harder and more costly for agents and consumers to easily comparison shop among airlines, which will result in increased prices for consumers.”
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