Expedia removed American Airlines from its flight searches this weekend. The action is the culmination of a series of disagreements between the airline and online travel booking companies over fees. American has pressed for travel sites to cut the fees they charge in order to book flights on the airline's behalf.Online travel company
Last month, American pulled its listing from Orbitz over a similar disagreement. And following that move Expedia tweaked its search module, effectively burying American flight listings. Customers could still book flights on American - if they could find them - but after this weekend, no longer. American Airlines flights are gone from the site.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, American Airlines said that "Customers looking to compare flights or fares online should visit other travel sites such as Kayak or Priceline for the most accurate and up-to-date information." And, of course, they can book via the airline's own site.
American Airlines is the third largest carrier in the U.S., but as with all the major airlines has faced continued financial losses and sought to cut costs. These savings measures have included attempts to renegotiate booking agents' fees. According to the Journal, American is at "the forefront of an industry effort to reduce the cost of ticket sales that has brought it into confrontation with parts of the travel agent sector, as well as the online sellers."
Whether the move hurts American Airlines or Expedia in the long run, it does serve as a reminder about the struggles for control over flight information and booking services - something that will likely be on the FTC's mind as they weigh Google's acquisition of ITA software, something that will further shake travel search.