Several weeks after executing a disappearing act, Expedia is back in Kayak's core flight search results in some U.S. markets.
Here's an image of Kayak results for a Newark, N.J. to Knoxville, Tenn., query for March 21 to March 29. It shows results from USAirways.com, CheapTickets.com [owned by Orbitz Worldwide] and Expedia.com:
Notice that US Airways and CheapTickets show $528 fares while Expedia merely displays "check rates." If you click "Go" for Expedia.com or select "See all price details" and then "click to see rates" for Expedia, you navigate to Expedia.com, which displays US Airways flights for $527.81.
Kayak considers the Expedia placement an advertisement while US Airways and CheapTickets are distribution partners.
Advertisements come and go and Expedia's flight search ads are back on Kayak despite an Expedia statement March 7 that it had temporarily stopped investing in Kayak's core flight search results.
An Expedia spokesman labeled its return to Kayak flight search results as “just day-to-day business. It’s an ongoing process dependant on all sorts of factors (e.g. Expedia site conversion rates, CPC rates, etc.”
Orbitz, however, apparently doesn't appreciate the distinction between distribution relationships and advertising partnerships on Kayak.
Orbitz believes it enjoys certain exclusivity rights in Kayak's U.S. flight search results, and alleges the Expedia ads violate a 2009 agreement with Kayak.
Kayak and Orbitz have submitted the dispute to arbitration.
Of Expedia’s reappearance in Kayak flight search results, Orbitz spokesman Brian Hoyt reiterated a March 7 statement on the topic.
“We continue to have an important marketing partnership with Kayak and believe any existing disputes will be resolved to uphold our exclusivity provisions within our business agreements,” Hoyt said.
Kayak declined to comment, citing confidentiality provisions in supplier relations.