In the latest salvo between American Airlines and online travel agencies/global distribution systems, Sabre Holdings announced today that it will immediately de-preference American Airlines fares and drop the carrier all together in August when its contract expires. I remain passionately indifferent as to which side is the right one in this. I don’t think anyone should be surprised that American desires to lower its distribution costs, nor do I think any airline should be surprised that the online agencies and global distribution systems are a little antsy about changing the status quo. In any event, the implications of this little tiff could be widespread depending on how it turns out.
I don’t know the first thing about American’s “Direct Connect” option that is at the center of this controversy. That said, I’ve never been a big online agency proponent in the first place. Personally, I think meta search engines like Farecompare.com, Kayak, or Bing are the way to go. And if you’re brand loyal in the least little bit, just book direct with the airline and be done with it. Otherwise, use a real honest to goodness “bricks and mortar” travel agent and pay them for their services.