JetBlue Airways is removing its fares and schedules from 11 online travel booking sites, saying the move will cut costs and help keep fares low.
The decision follows the lead of Southwest Airlines, which has long kept its booking information from some of the most popular online travel sites. Delta Air Lines also began a few years ago to pull its information from several third-party sites.
JetBlue described the decision as “the first phase of a new online distribution strategy.”
For passengers, third-party booking sites make fare comparison easy by showing the lowest fare of each airline side by side.
But airlines would prefer that travelers book directly through their own websites, where they can pitch passengers on upgrades, such as roomier seats, special meals and packages that include hotel and car rental reservations.
Also, when passengers book a flight through a third-party travel site, airlines pay a commission to the booking sites — usually less than 10%.
So far, JetBlue has pulled its schedules and prices from 11 sites, including Smartfares.com and Myflightsearch.com, and remains available through more popular booking sites such as Expedia and Travelocity.
George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, said JetBlue’s strategy may be adopted by other carriers. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if JetBlue pulls its information from more online travel sites in the future.
He noted that travelers who want to compare prices still can go to “aggregator sites” such as Kayak.com or Google Flights, which still compare prices and then direct travelers to book directly through the airline website.
But aggregator sites show only the lowest fares and not the various seating options, forcing travelers to do more research if they want to buy onboard extras, Hobica said.
“It makes for a lot more work for consumers,” he said.
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