American, Expedia now in booking battle

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on December 23, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 23 at 6:56 PM

DALLAS — In a rare move that unifies it with a competitor, the online travel site Expedia has made it more challenging for its customers to find ticket prices from American Airlines.

While Expedia lists what other airlines charge, it now forces users to take an additional step and click on a link to see American's fares. The Fort Worth-based carrier is now the last airline listed in Expedia's lineup, as well.

Expedia's move comes two days after an Illinois judge let American Airlines sever its relationship with Orbitz, one of Expedia's competitors.

"We cannot support efforts that we believe are fundamentally bad for travelers," Expedia said in a statement.

The ability for consumers to compare prices is at risk, Expedia suggested.

The online travel company said it adjusted the way it displays American Airlines' fares in retaliation to what the airline did with Orbitz.

Expedia said it also worries it could be next — losing the ability to sell American's tickets when its contract with the carrier expires.

"American Airlines has shown it only intends to do business with travel agencies through a new model that is anti-consumer and anti-choice," Expedia said in a statement. "We believe American Airlines' proposed direct connect model will result in higher costs and reduced transparency for consumers, making it difficult to compare AA ticket prices and options with offerings by other airlines."

Airlines have traditionally paid sellers a commission. But experts said airlines ultimately would like to flip the current financial arrangement around and have travel agents pay them for access to flight information, rather than American paying every time someone else sells a ticket for one of its flights.

"This discriminatory action is unwarranted, especially considering that American has taken no action against and continues to operate in good faith with Expedia," American Airlines said in a statement to News 8.

American said Expedia's action also makes it more difficult for consumers to compare prices.

"While tickets for air travel on American remain available for purchase on Expedia, its favoritism toward other airlines' airfares may lead consumers into believing that they have fewer choices,  even in situations where American's fares are lower, and schedules are superior,  than other airlines that are listed first."

American said it is now considering its options.

The airline is locked into a contract with Expedia.

Still, American's fares remain available on other Web sites including Priceline.com and Kayak.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Email: jwhitely@wfaa.com

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