by Beth Williamson January 31st, 2011
A row has begun in the United States between online travel websites and Airlines over flight booking system changes.
The news follows the shift by the US’s largest carrier American Airlines to a new booking system that eliminates the ability for online travel agents to book its flights. In response, 125 online travel firms including Expedia and Orbitz have joined hands to become the Open Allies for Airfare Transparency in the effort of preventing the move from spreading across the industry, citing that such booking systems will block consumers from being able to compare flights and shop with ease.
American Airlines has said that the new direct link system is better for its passengers as it will provide proper information for all add-on services such as priority boarding whilst also cutting its costs. The carrier’s flights were first withdrawn from online booking firm sites on the 21st of December when Orbitz refused to adopt the new ticket system.
Open Allies director Andrew Weinstein said however that his coalition was not taking aim at any one airline, but instead was simply a group concerned that airlines may shift to a booking scheme that would circumnavigate the current central distribution system. He said that if this happens then it could become impossible for consumers to compare fares and flights side by side.