It's been awhile since we've had a single carrier feud so widely with online travel sites — the most notable recurring feud was American Airlines and Orbitz.
Delta has now taken on the fight with OTAs and metas, reportedly removing schedule and fare information from over a dozen websites.
This information comes from a new report by the Travel Technology Association, a trade group that represents the travel technology trade.
The websites unable to access Delta's inventory include the popular TripAdvisor and Hipmunk. The report also points to data limitations from American and United.
Called Benefits of Preserving Consumers' Ability to Compare Airline Fares, the report's motivation behind sharing this information is to encourage transparency among airlines.
The association wants full access to pertinent data that travelers need to make an informed travel purchase. Without this transparency, the association argues, consumers aren't able to shop around to find the best prices — and thus end up paying more as the airlines control fare access and reduce price competitiveness.
In a statement to Wall Street Journal, Bryan Saltzburg, head of flight search at TripAdvisor, shared his perspective on how the major carriers are using leverage against OTAs and meta sites to prevent them from having full inventory access:
Delta has been the most egregious, but this is about the large carriers leveraging their market dominance to restrict and selectively choose the winners and losers—and the losers are the American public.
We are far from the only company impacted from this. We just feel strongly enough to talk about it.
In a public response, Delta says only that it "reserves the right to determine who it does business with, and where and how its information is displayed.”
The report shares the following graph to demonstrate how much power the airlines now hold due to widespread consolidation.
That, along with the push to redesign brand.com sites to build the direct channel, means far fewer incentives for airlines to provide fare and schedule information to third-party sites.
The key takeaways from the research, which was underwritten by the association, are:
- A lack of transparency could lead to ticket prices rising up to 11% for the unmanaged business traveler and leisure traveler
- $6.7 billion is the total cost of higher airfares after eliminating the ability to compare prices
- Up to 41 million would choose not to fly due to those higher prices
- New airlines face further barriers to entry, as consumers cannot compare pricing easily from multiple airlines
The full report is available for download here
. The association has also taken the most salient bits and compiled them into the following infographic.
Download the full size infographic here.
NB: Delta image courtesy Shutterstock.