American Airlines 1, Kayak 0?

I missed this, but the Cranky Flier didn’t: American Airlines has apparently patched up its tiff with Kayak and its sister site, SideStep. That means American’s fares are now displayed on those meta-search sites again.

But Cranky poked around and concluded that Kayak caved to American’s demand that it show only links to the airline’s own Web site when it displays fares for American flights. Other sites that sell American tickets, such as Orbitz, seem to be shut out.

An airline’s site usually has the lowest fare, anyway, so the consumer is not necessarily harmed in this case. But then some consumers might prefer to use an online agency for a few bucks more. And even those who don’t might find this trend unsettling.

Travelers trust metasearch sites like Kayak because they deliver thorough, unbiased fare comparisons. I hate to see anybody mess with that. After all, less information is rarely good for customers. 

I also wonder wheter the big travel sites — Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia — are going to get up in American’s grill about this.


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