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Booking Engine Fiascos: Trying to Parse the Kayak-AA Drama

July 24, 2008 at 1:34 PM | by | Comments (3)

From August 1, Jaunted's preferred travel search engine, Kayak, won't be displaying fares for American Airlines flights. While TechCrunch, which originally reported the story, says that's because the aggregator "tends to show AA flights through its partnership with Orbitz instead of directly from American," this screen capture clearly shows that's but one option Kayak supplies bargain hunters.

In fact, CEO Steve Hafner (or someone using his name) clarified, leaving a comment on TechCrunch:

American asked us to suppress search results from competing websites as a condition to displaying their fares. This is simply not something that Kayak will do.

Kayak's own About Us page explains that position:

Unlike online travel agencies, Kayak is not a store. Online travel agencies are retailers that can only sell you the products on their shelves. Their displays are designed to sell the merchandise that make them the most money AND they tack on a service fee for each airline ticket booked which adds up for a family vacation.

Kayak is not limited to the size of a stockroom. In fact, since we don't sell anything, we don't even have a stockroom. Rather, we search for travel goods across the Web and provide details on hundreds of options. Since Kayak doesn't sell anything, there's no hidden agenda or biased displays.

Why anyone would buy a ticket through those Orbitz affiliate links is a mystery to us, as the fares from AA.com are clearly the cheapest. While the TechCrunch story says it was American's idea to pull its info, the comment that the airline sent to the Budget Travel blog blamed Kayak:

Kayak/Sidestep has advised American Airlines that they will no longer display our content.

We are disappointed and hopeful that this issue can be resolved in the near future so that American Airlines will again display on the Kayak/Sidestep sites.

The weirdest thing of all is that AA fares will remain on Farecast and Mobissimo--sites that also have Orbitz affiliate links.

Related Stories:
· Trouble in Online Travel: American Airlines Ditches Kayak [TechCrunch]
· American Confirms that Kayak Will Stop Showing Fares [BT]
· American Airlines coverage [Jaunted]

Comments (3)

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The more interesting point...

Southwest is the largest domestic carrier and they've accomplished that without paying squat to online travel agencies.  

Hotels (especially) and airlines will likely try very hard to wrestle business away from commissioned sites and back to their own.  This may just be a spark before the fire.

My take:  http://beatofhawaii.com/online-travel-agencies-in-trouble/

Aloha, Jeff


The official statements...

Thanks for getting the story right. Here are the official statements from Kayak.com: Kayak.com Statement on American Airlines

the issue is

that sometimes they hide the airline direct booking links on some flights and lead visitors to cheaptickets or orbitz.

Check out my post about this (I posted this a few months back) at http://cloud9ineteen.blogspot.com/2007/12/kayak-fanboys-beware.html

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