Travel websites allege Delta Air Lines is shutting them out
A group of travel websites claims that Delta Air Lines Inc. is cutting them and their users off from its data, adding to industry tensions over the way consumers shop for flights on the Internet.
Delta has removed its schedule and fare information from over a dozen sites, includingTripAdvisor Inc., Hipmunk Inc. and CheapOair.com, saying it didn’t authorize the sites to use its data, according to a report to be released on Wednesday by the Travel Technology Association, a trade group for the sites.
The group said Delta’s move is part of a broader push by airlines to restrict how—and whether—sites can use their fare and schedule data. The group says carriers includingAmerican Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. have recently adopted policies allowing them to limit how the sites use their data.
The spat marks the latest chapter in the struggle for control over airfare searches and seat purchases online. Carriers increasingly are pushing fliers to their own sites, partly to improve sales of add-on products such as extra legroom and frequent-flier points. And they have butted heads with the travel sites over booking fees. In a dust-up last August, American temporarily withdrew its flight information from sites operated by Orbitz Worldwide Inc.
While the sites affected by Delta’s recent actions account for a relatively small share of total flight searches, the trade group says its members, which include the biggest travel websites, broadly fear that airlines are laying the groundwork for a gradual exodus from fare-comparison websites, a move that they say would make it easier for airlines to raise fares.