I’ve been watching the little tiff between American Airlines and Orbitz (and now Expedia) with great interest. Frankly, it’s almost entertaining to me. I won’t come down solidly on the side of anyone in this battle. Honestly, I “get” why American would like to reduce its distribution costs, but I also “get” why Orbitz doesn’t want to give away the store so to speak. The fact that Expedia entered the fray by making American’s flights harder to find on its website is just icing on the cake for what is sure to be an exciting 2011 for airlines and those who sell the majority of their product.
Let’s face it folks, AA.com doesn’t carry the same kind of cachet that southwest.com does. Brand loyalists like me might automatically go to AA.com to purchase their AA travel, but most of the world is not me. Online travel agencies (OTA’s) are a big chunk of revenue sales for your average airline, and American is just that, an average airline. They’re no longer the biggest kid on the block. Now, if the other airlines jump on board behind American and start playing tough with the OTA’s, then American may be on to something. On the other hand, if the rest of the airlines leave American swinging in the wind, then American will find itself eating a crow sandwich for Christmas dinner. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the fight. It’s going to be entertaining for airline geeks like me to watch.