We told you they were going to do it. Now, they’ve done it. This latest breeze blowing through the airline industry could prove to be another ill wind for the traveling consumer.
Last month, we told you that American Airlines was seriously considering pulling its airfare information out of the Orbitz reservation system, and we told you why.
We told you how this followed in the jetstream of Southwest Airlines, which requires you to log onto their own Web site to find their fares and book their flights online.
There were those back then who speculated that it was all just a negotiating ploy between Orbitz and the airline, and that American wasn’t really serious about it.
Guess what? They were.
PULLING THE PLUG
As of Tuesday, airfares for American and American Eagle no longer show up on Orbitz. Attempts by Orbitz to block the move were rejected by a Chicago judge.
For details on this development, you can read this story from the Chicago Tribune here.
Nor is this an isolated act. As reported by George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com, another major U.S. air carrier, Delta, recently pulled their fares off CheapoAir and OneTravel. And the betting here says this is only the beginning.
What does this mean for you and your travel budget?
It seems fairly clear what’s happening. These days, knowledge is more than just power. It literally is money in your pocket. The more widely available airfare information is to you, the consumer, the better chance you have of finding the best possible deal and saving yourself some serious cash.
Is anyone really surprised that the airlines don’t like that?
HERDING YOU IN
The airline industry will spin this as doing the flying public a favor. They’re not. The more that individual airlines can control what fare information you can see, and where you can see it, the better they can herd you into paying the rates they would prefer you to pay.
This also, of course, will make it much harder and more time-consuming for people to search for airfare bargains. Which is exactly the area in which this airline industry gambit may come back to bite them.
We talked about that last month, too.
Meanwhile, expect more airlines to follow American’s lead on this — not just against Orbitz, but Kayak and all the rest.
The “FASTEN SEAT BELT” sign is flashing over your wallet. Expect turbulence.
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