Expedia Pulls American Airlines Listings From Site

Expedia.com has wasted no time in picking the first travel industry fight of 2011. Less than two weeks after American Airlines parted ways with Orbitz.com, Expedia has made its stance clear by removing all American listings from its pages.

In the days after the Orbitz news, Expedia had expressed solidarity with the site by downgrading the placement of American Airlines flights on its search results. But this morning, the company released the following statement to Consumerist, announcing the termination of its relationship with the airline:

We have been unable to reach an agreement with American Airlines due to American Airlines’ new commercial strategy that we believe is anti-consumer and anti-choice. American Airlines is attempting to introduce a new direct connect model that will result in higher costs and reduced transparency for consumers, making it difficult to compare American Airlines’ ticket prices and options with offerings by other airlines. American Airlines’ direct connect model is of questionable, if any, benefit to travelers, would be costly to build and maintain and would compromise travel agents’ ability to provide travelers with the best selection.

As a result, the sale of American Airlines flights on our website has been suspended. We remain open to doing business with American Airlines on terms that are satisfactory to Expedia and do not compromise our ability to provide consumers with the products and services they need.

We cannot support efforts that we believe are fundamentally bad for travelers. With or without American Airlines’ inventory, we have a robust supply base and broad array of choices for our customers and we continue to offer hundreds of flight options for the routes served by American Airlines.

American isn’t the only airline making moves intended to drive people away from third-party booking sites and to its own website. Right after Christmas, Delta announced it had pulled its listings from three smaller travel sites.

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  1. Skully says:

    I fly southwest, so don’t care about AA or Delta and their out dated business model.. Plus I prefer going direct rather a 3rd party site

    • tr41nwr3ck says:

      You fly SouthWorst? Good for you.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      I haven’t flown Southwest since the late 1970s. And won;t. They are the Greyhound Bus of airlines.

    • 6T9 says:

      Love Southwest. Never had one problem with them.

    • TuxedoCartman says:

      If Southwest flew overseas, I’d be especially happy. They have their problems from time to time, but are light-years ahead of the others in quality, in my opinion.

    • tbax929 says:

      Southwest is terrible. They really are the Greyhound of the sky. And the funny thing is that their prices aren’t any better than the other airlines any more. I usually fly AA because they have a lot of flights in and out of my local hub.

      • RevancheRM says:

        Your comment would be a lot more helpful if you’d elaborate on why you hate Southwest.

      • Powerlurker says:

        The thing about “discount” airlines is that their fare’s aren’t regularly cheaper than the mainlines, the big difference is when you have to buy tickets on short notice. Their fares tend to be more consistent until the time of flight, whereas the big carriers will typically give you really cheap fares if you book far out and rape you mercilessly if you need to fly right away.

    • bdgbill says:

      I buy Southwest tickets for my colleagues because of their fantastic baggage, return and change policies.

      For my own travel, I don’t even consider Southwest. There are few things more terrifying to me as a traveler than a “C group” boarding pass on Southwest. Even worse is having a nice safe “A group” pass, only to get on the plane and find it two thirds full of people from some other city.

      If Southwest ever introduces seat assignments, I will probably fly them twice a month or more.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      When I fly I usually go overseas so I purposely choose a foreign airlines such as Air France. Foreign airlines are so much better in everything that they do.

      • RevancheRM says:

        Actually…thanks for this. I avoid flying as much as possible, since I’m not treated as a customer, but as cargo that needs to be talked down to, at a high price (to myself). The American airlines have (generally) made it clear they don’t need my business, and so I avoid using them if at all possible.

        But, 50% of the time I travel on my dime it is overseas. I have never tried to use a non-American airline. Your comment made the lightbulb click on. Thanks.

      • mattarse says:

        I’m amazed that Air France is your example though – that’s the one airline I’ll never fly with again!

      • TheFingerOfGod says:

        While I hate flying (it scares me) I LOVE Virgin Atlantic!!!

    • Cosmo_Kramer says:

      Could you clarify what you mean by “outdated business model?”

  2. Beave says:

    I do a moderate amount of corporate travel and Orbitz does our travel booking. I’m interested to see how this all pans out going forward because American is one of two Airlines I seem to get booked on the most, typically flying through O’Hare.

    It seems like the Airlines are trying to keep their ticket prices off of the travel sites so they can charge more and deal with less competition, but do they really think I’m going to go to AA.com just to look up their ticket prices? No way.

    And on a side note, AA’s two commercials they’re running excessively during the bowl games are absolutely horrid… They’re treacly, contrived, and totally attempting to glom onto the US Armed Forces and use the emotion of a troop deploying or returning home to sell us tickets. I’m glad they’re giving Troops priority treatment, but those commercials just make me feel sleezy. I’m far less likely to book with American if I have the choice because of those commercials.

    • Wasp is like Requiem for a Dream without the cheery bits says:

      Agreed, I recently flew out of O’hare and booked through Orbitz and flew on AA. While I don’t do a lot of travel I would have never thought to seek out AA outside of a travel website like Orbitz.

      Why AA thinks this is a good idea is a little puzzling.

      • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

        “Why AA thinks this is a good idea is a little puzzling.”

        Cost reduction. Apparently AA have crunched the numbers re it’s impact on revenues and believe it’s a profitable move.

      • tbax929 says:

        It’s funny you say that. I am so wary of travel sites that I’d never book a plane ticket through Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, or any other travel site. I log in to AA.com, type in my frequent flyer number and book a flight.

  3. james says:

    Kayak.com For The Win.

    Why worry about what the airlines and the aggregators are doing when you can be so meta, and use a search engine that searches all the other search engines?

    AA still shows up, but one has to only fly AA once to the Dominican Republic to learn exactly what they do with their aging and unreliable aircraft. They use them on the NYC to SDQ, and to heck with your getting back from a vacation on the day you thought you would. Check it out on flightstats.com, AA flights on that route are more than 24 hours late more often than not!

  4. james says:

    Kayak.com For The Win.

    Why worry about what the airlines and the aggregators are doing when you can be so meta, and use a search engine that searches all the other search engines?

    AA still shows up, but one has to only fly AA once to the Dominican Republic to learn exactly what they do with their aging and unreliable aircraft. They use them on the NYC to SDQ, and to heck with your getting back from a vacation on the day you thought you would. Check it out on flightstats.com, AA flights on that route are more than 24 hours late more often than not!

  5. psychocatlady says:

    Expedia doesn’t give anyone good prices any way. I hope all airlines pull from places like Expedia because third party travel sites are thieves. Any kind of error or regular mix up, even if it’s their fault, will usually result in you paying more.

    But it’s typical Expedia bad mouths American Airlines. By being a big bully, they are doing the standard routine of passing the blame and showing bad business practices against competitors. They do it to their regular consumers all the time, why not huff and puff when they lose a major airline that they will now be up against? I doubt AA will be any more expensive, the difference is is that now Expedia will not be getting the money.

    • bar_foo says:

      Actually I’ve sometimes found deals on Expedia (albeit via Kayak) that weren’t available elsewhere because they involved flying on a different airline in each direction.

    • Cindymiles says:

      Ive had great experiences with expedia. Consistently horrible with AA esp flying international.

    • RevancheRM says:

      “…why not huff and puff when they lose a major airline that they will now be up against?”

      The article I read indicated they showed solidarity with Orbitz (a true competitor) and cut AA, NOT that AA cut them.

      • psychocatlady says:

        It was a tactical move by AA, and before that, Delta. A quick glance at what AA will be doing on their news section of the site indicates some hints at changes.

  6. shufflemoomin says:

    Both of those Airlines don’t offer good enough products for people to jump through hoops to fly on them. Hell, most consumers might not even be aware of this situation. They’ll check online travel sites and accept the lowest fare those sites offer. They won’t go around a bunch of airline sites and repeat the same information to check prices. AA and Delta might have a plan but I sure as hell can’t figure out what it is.

  7. HotelGuy80 says:

    Here’s a blast from the past…you can just use a local travel agent. If they have access to the Global Distribution System, they can access all the airlines, and in turn all fares, and not just the ones that the 3rd Party Web sites consider to be the most adventageous to them.

    Additionally, if you use an agent for something else like cruises or vacation packages, most professional agents won’t charge you a service fee for airline tickets. Maybe it’s time to go back to using travel professionals instead of embracing the self-service culture.

    • k8supergrover says:

      This is 100% true (I’m a travel agent). In fact some agencies don’t charge processing fees at all to book your ticket, they can book it for you at the same price (or sometimes cheaper) than you would find online, and we take cash!

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Travel agents? The last one around here went out of business years ago.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      You know that ain’t a bad idea and thanks for bringing it up because I haven’t thought of going to them in years. I remember when I began using online sites in 2002 and to go to Europe it was cheap. I actually got a two-way ticket to Europe for under $500.00. Now days? No chance but I realize that some of the cost is because of tightened air travel security. The ticket pricing on Virgin Airlines is a good example of hiding fees. They’ll advertise $699.00 tickets but after all the “fees”, that low price can easily jump to $1,500.00.

  8. MFfan310 says:

    Expedia’s quote: “American Airlines’ direct connect model is of questionable, if any, benefit to travelers, would be costly to build and maintain and would compromise travel agents’ ability to provide travelers with the best selection.”

    That argument is all fine and good, except that AA’s direct connection system (based on Farelogix technology) is provided free to any travel site or travel agency that wants to use it. (I know that Priceline made the switch.) Implementation issues could be a different story, though – that might be part of the reason Expedia is holding back.

    And like many here, I prefer booking directly through the airline, and AA.com is a good site to book on anyway.

    • tbax929 says:

      AA.com is a great site. I love that I can pick my seat immediately when I purchase a ticket, something Southwest can’t offer me. It’s so easy to use, and I wish other airlines would use it as a model for what their websites can be like.

    • john says:

      Hate to tell you this, but AA Direct Connect IS NOT provided free to travel agencies or companies such as Orbitz and Travelocity. Yes, the program is free, but you have to have a completly different computer setup than the one you already have, hence you have to go and buy all new hardware just to use it.

      • whittygirl says:

        not to mention trying to sew that program into your codebase. For the larger sites, that has got to be a daunting task.

  9. ericschmidt says:

    for you armchair-wannabe CEOs out there who have no idea what you’re talking about:

    American Airlines is not doing this so they can charge higher prices in a hidden way or prevent the customer from finding good fares. They are doing this because distribution fees are running them millions of dollars per year and they want to cut those out of their bottom line by pushing more bookings towards their own channel.

    Uninformed people think it’s about “consumer choice”, etc, etc — all those public relations talking points, but it’s never about that. It’s about getting charged for something. Just like the cable providers and the sports networks. The fight isn’t over “consumer choice” and “right to watch their favorite shows”. It’s over $5 per month per subscriber access fees that one side is making, and another side has to pay.

    So don’t imagine for a second that one side is the unilaterally greedy party. And don’t imagine that “I just use Kayak” will fix anyone’s problems…

    • Cindymiles says:

      I dont know where you got this information from.

      • FrugalFreak says:

        I’m guessing Cable Companies sold the same feel good when they begin locking down the towns.

    • sonneillon says:

      Calm yourself. Yes third party sites do cut on their bottom line, but the exchange is advertisement. They are not paying for nothing. They are paying so that people who use booking sites will find American Airlines. It may be that it is costing them too much, but if you book at any airlines personal sight their rates are almost always higher than the rate at Expedia. One of their people may have decided that they could charge more if people just book from their site. It could be anything really and only their upper management are going to know for sure.

      Looking at American Airlines 10k and 10Q filings I can say that it is a poorly run company, but that does not necessarily imply they are trying to get one over on the consumer.

      • MyLifeROI says:

        I have found that Orbitz has higher rates than the price on the airlines site. Usually they are the same price, though. At least booking through the airline gives you more flexibility in case of emergency.

  10. sonneillon says:

    My rule on flying is
    if I cannot get a direct flight and the price is within 75 bucks or I I take Jetblue.
    If not I take the cheapest flight.
    American Airlines has at no point been the cheapest airline for me. I don’t like the loss of competition on travel sites but I never like the loss of competition.

  11. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Expedia isn’t on your side or care if it’s “bad for consumers”.
    It’s just two big boys fighting it out over their share of the pie.

  12. jimmyhl says:

    I gave up on Expedia when I called their on-line support phone number and the CSR told me that they didn’t handle calls about on-line support problems.

  13. tr41nwr3ck says:

    Cheap, fast, good.

    Pick two.

  14. Big Mama Pain says:

    I’ve started to be more choosy with my airline now, rather than go for the cheapest price. When I flew AA, both legs of my flights were farmed out to some third party with the scariest planes I’ve ever been in. Now I see someone has commented on the shoddy upkeep, and I know it wasn’t just my imagination. Jetblue is the only airline I have used that has consistently had good customer service, prices and pretty decent perks-every other airline has been hit or miss. At this point they have my business, even if I can find a cheaper flight on another airline.

  15. Portlandia says:

    Expedia if you’re so focused on transparency why don’t you drop hotels that hide price in undisclosed mandatory “resort fees”. If the fee is mandatory it should be included in the base hotel rates.

    • stevied says:

      Damn right.

      No Fees. Hear me Ticketmaster?

      The advertised price should be THE PRICE.

      • Clyde Barrow says:

        You mean drop the “convienience fee?”, “looking at our website fee?”, “clicking on the enter button fee?”, “we are entitled fee?”, “because we exist in your universe fee?”, or the “a fee for asking questions about our fee’s?”

        Why? However would these CEOs pay for the wives liposuction, Beemer’s, or that quaint cottage in the Alps?

    • k8supergrover says:

      I never really understood why they don’t include these fees in the rate, but I think part of the reason (based on experience working at a hotel that charged them) is that they would be waived for loyalty club members and it was easier to do it that way than to lower the cost of the room for some people. It’s not like airline fees where you can avoid it if you don’t check a second bag or whatever, they are supposedly for everyone, so why not just charge everyone? It’s super annoying and trust me, no one likes having to explain them to guests either.

      • Portlandia says:

        That’s the point, they don’t waive these fees for anyone. I am an elite member at a couple different chains and you’re still required to pay them regardless.

        It’s pure BS that’s intended to hide the true cost of the room by adding surprise fees at check-out.

  16. SabreDC says:

    Outdated business model? You mean flying to Alaska, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming?

  17. EverCynicalTHX says:

    Believe me when I say that this has nothing to do with anti-consumer sentiment on either side, rather monopolistic positioning with the success of the internet by both parties.

  18. stevied says:

    Here, let me fix that statement for ya

    We have been unable to reach an agreement with American Airlines due to American Airlines’ new commercial strategy that we believe is strongly pro-consumer.

    In other words, AA won’t give Expedia the keys to the cookie jar. Ah shucks, a 3rd party provider of no added value will actually have to work for a living.

    Now we can have two strong, viable and directly competative airlines as AA competes directly with Southwest for the wallets of consumers. Consumers unite in joy.

  19. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Southwest does fine and they are not on Expedia.

  20. Audiyoda28 says:

    American Airlines is attempting to introduce a new direct connect model that will result in higher costs and reduced transparency for consumers, making it difficult to compare American Airlines’ ticket prices and options with offerings by other airlines. American Airlines’ direct connect model is of questionable, if any, benefit to travelers, would be costly to build and maintain and would compromise travel agents’ ability to provide travelers with the best selection.

    In other words, American Airlines doesn’t want to pay Expedia the commissions Expedia feels it deserves. AA is taking the same business model that has helped Southwest propel itself to the near top of the ladder in airline CS (not that that is really saying much).

  21. giantspbpk says:

    Expedia is just a middleman, AA is actually providing the product. I would argue that if Expedia doesn’t have product available (if they keep removing airlines), travelers will just go to a site that does. Someone will replace them, it’s easy to become irrelevant in the internet age (look at yahoo). AA can survive without Expedia and Orbitz, not sure the reverse is true.

  22. smirkette says:

    I’ve only had bad experiences on AA anyway. Any chance Travelocity can get rid of Continental, because every experience I’ve had with them sucked, too.

    And for everyone saying that they’re getting jacked up prices with Orbitz or Travelocity, I found the airline site fares $300+ more than through the aggregator for my flight next week. Weird, huh? I guess YMMV.

  23. wagnerism says:

    Did Expedia really express solidarity with a competing site? Taking sides? People sure love a fight!

    They decided upon their actions based only on what makes them a more viable business, be it a competitive edge or a higher profit margin. They’re only in it for themselves – and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I expect them to do that.

    I have a problem with their message. Their spin on it is just propaganda in the war. How hard is it to vilify an airline? With gate rape, baggage fees, and common travel horror stories, it is pretty easy to pile on by saying they’re fighting for YOU against their CEO that made an extra billion while you slept in an airport.

    A prudent consumer will identify the suppliers’ products and make a selection based on their criteria. Convenience comes at a cost. If you don’t want to check Southwest’s website for a cheaper fare or better flight times, then you miss out. It takes work to get a better product and/or a better price. If your time is too valuable, then pay the higher price and go on with your life.

    I’m not saying that I avoid Expedia or Orbitz. I’m saying that I check more than just those sites when looking to book travel.

  24. Cindymiles says:

    Awesome. I hate flying with them and will pay more to avoid AA.

    • tbax929 says:

      Your comment would be a lot more helpful if you’d elaborate on why you hate AA and which airline you’ve had better experiences with.

  25. igj says:

    I just checked Expedia’s corporate travel site Egencia – which my company forces its employees to use to book travel – and American flights are still there. So, this seems to be only for the consumer-facing site.

  26. human_shield says:

    Expedia, at least to me, is just a flight search engine. I look at flights, compare prices, and then book directly with the airline. Whenever I have booked with Expedia and have a problem, they just send me to the airline’s customer service anyway, so there is no value in Expedia other than a side by side comparison of flights which, really, I could do myself much slower.

  27. PupJet says:

    I fly SWA anyway. Why on earth would anyone really want to fly on AA? There are a couple of other airlines I fly as well, such as Continental (albeit a bit pricy at times), United, etc…but then again, I prefer to go directly to the airline website or even *gasp* a travel agent (we still have a couple of those around here and they seem to be doing much better lately!)

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Because people like going places besides Phoenix and Baltimore.

      Seriously, Southwest is great, if they’ve decided to fly to where you want to go. It’s easy to be the cute, cuddly airline when you only do the routes with insane profit margins. Next time you need to go from Amarillo to Missoula, you’ll see why the big airlines exist.

  28. DaveBoy says:

    Hell with airlines. I drive and don’t put up with their charging for every little thing.

  29. jenjenjen says:

    It only took one bad Expedia experience being bumped out of a reserved seat (on American, actually) to turn me off those services. I only book directly with the airlines now, and I don’t really find it that hard to compare prices on my own. In the beginning, the third parties seemed like a good idea. Airlines got to make at least some money on seats they were unlikely to sell. Nowadays, I’m almost never on a flight without that “every seat will be taken” announcement, so I don’t see how these discount sales benefit the airlines at all.

  30. quail says:

    From the early 90s to early 2000s I flew within the U.S. on business 2 to 3 times a month. American Airlines was the only airline I avoided at the time due to all of my bad experiences with them.

    Don’t know why but the move American has made to get off of Orbitz and now that they are kicked out of Expedia reminds me of when Greyhound Bus Lines stopped printing their routing books for independent bus carriers to use. Their idea was that they could force these smaller routes out of business, but oddly it wasn’t business they were able to take over. In the end they lost significant ridership in areas where riding the bus was actually a viable alternative to driving or flying.

  31. davidsco says:

    People still use Expedia?

    As with the Cable Co/network wars, it’s another case of 2 greedy sides trying to carve up your money. BOTH suck. Expedia and Orbitz charge ridiculous fees to be listed in search results, yet, they become less valuable the less companies they have. Just like Fox becomes less valuable the less cable companies carry it. Amazing how scumbags have a problem working together when they’re greedily fighting over money

  32. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I think Howard Hughes screwed us, and we should have created a nationalized airline system.