Looking for American Airlines fares on Orbitz? Don't bother. Ditto for Delta if you're searching on CheapOAir.com, OneTravel.com or BookIt.com. The carriers pulled their fares from the travel sites last month in an apparent attempt to bolster their bottom lines. But who are they hurting -- you, the travel sites or themselves?
Consider this scenario: You're a Delta SkyMiles or AAdvantage member and you're poking around the Web, looking for the best fares. Your go-to site is one of the aforementioned, and you can't find a fare for your preferred airline. Do you:
A. Select the lowest fare from the search results, even if you're not a member of that airline's frequent-flier program?
B. Go to another travel site and look for your airline's fares there?
C. Go directly to American or Delta, forgoing any hope for a rock-bottom fare from elsewhere that might prompt you to ditch loyalties just this once.
If you go with A, then might you join said airline's frequent-flier program to earn miles for the flight, thereby turning your back on American or Delta in the name of convenience? And If you go with B or C, you've been inconvenienced by wasted time and effort.
Neither scenario bodes well for the airline, which could be missing out on its share of the millions of dollars generated from sales on the most popular travel sites. And to compound this, Expedia announced over the weekend that it was dropping American from its site in what appears to be a display of solidarity with Orbitz. An Expedia statement explained the company's position that American's commercial strategy is "anti-consumer" and "anti-choice."
And now we're back at square one: Is Expedia shooting itself in the foot, kicking American where it hurts or hitting you below the belt? Or all three?