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Fare Search Sites Angry With Airlines

Evidence is emerging of a growing tension between airlines and online travel search engines over how prices for air tickets are displayed to users in results. At the core of the issue is the contract that a number of airlines are trying to impose on metasearch brands which is, in the words of one insider a “heavy-handed tactic”. The practice in question goes to the heart once more of the direct-vs-intermediary battle being played out publicly in the hotel industry – airlines want to “own the customer”, so therefore want to stop travelers booking with an online travel agency. The strategy is known as a “redistribution restriction” and involves airlines trying to force metasearch engines to sign a contract that says only the carrier’s fares can be shown in a search result to consumers, with prices for the same ticket from online travel agencies excluded. There is increasing concern that airlines are attempting to “stifle distribution” to benefit their own direct-model strategy, although such tactics are seen as essentially removing the very idea of why travel agencies exist – so travelers can shop for tickets based on a selection of prices. To read more at Tnooz, click here.

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