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FYI: some airlines no longer participating in popular online ticket websites

New article in the NY Times 6/8/2015 about some airlines limiting price info, preventing some large online travel sites from providing price info on ticketing. Some airlines are preferring to provide price info only on their own websites. According to this article, this funnels travelers to the airline website so the airline can "upsell"---extra leg room, etc etc., allows them to avoid any commissions that they may have to pay to 3rd party sites (TripAdvisor), etc. Many of us use those 3rd party sites, but book the tickets through the airline directly, so it will be interesting to see what impact this truly has on the airlines' revenue model---but I do enjoy comparing fares on one site.

Posted by
795 posts

We always book directly with the airlines and join their loyalty programs. They aren't doing this so much to upsell because those of us who fly first class don't need extra legroom in the first place and people in economy can already book directly and buy extras. They are just cutting out the middle men who expect commissions. Also, I constantly hear about people buying through the online sites complaining that there were serious problems and the middle man seller online won't help them or even talk to them. Anyone can book directly with the airline and no one is forced to buy extras they don't want.

Posted by
518 posts

I'd have to agree with Terri. I have been booking directly with airlines for many years now. Cutting out the middle man, even if at a cost (and that cost savings will vary), means more control over your flight and being able to go to and hold the airline directly accountable for any issues with the booking.

As an example, I recently used my United miles to book a Lufthansa flight (United and Lufthansa are partner airlines under Star Alliance). Although the two are partner airlines I could not book direct with Lufthansa because the miles were with United. So, United's ticketing office essentially became my "middle man." As a result there were certain things I could not do directly on Lufthansa's website, such as assign seats or select upgrades, meals, and other extras. I had to call Lufthansa directly to do this.

In yet another example, a few years back my parents booked a vacation package through a local travel agent. They and their friends were able to book the flight portion for a very low rate because the travel agent sold them their tickets as a discounted block of tickets. This removed yet an additional layer of control from the travelers. Whereas in using an agent/middleman whether online or in person you may still be able to control certain aspects of your flight by contacting the airline directly, as I did above, when the tickets are purchased in bulk by the agent, you literally have zero control over your ticket because it's part of a group.

Just some things to consider when price shopping for tickets.

Posted by
9363 posts

I also agree. I always book directly with whatever airline I am using. I might check places like Kayak for general price/schedule information, but I never book through them.

Posted by
23115 posts

I don't this is anything new unless more airlines are withdrawing from the search engines. For example, Southwest has never participated.