Great news! Booking flights online is increasingly difficult and irritating. The reason? As the NYT explains, many airlines are locked in grappling matches with fare aggregators like Orbitz and Expedia over who gets paid how much. Either way, we lose.
American and Delta have been the most active in their site-skirting, ducking out of agreements with popular services like those above as well as smaller ones, such as Bookit.com, Airfare.com, and Vegas.com.
Sabre, a prominent (behind the scenes) network that routes fare information to booking sites, let American know it's backing out of their contract a month early, and will actually go out of their way to make it harder to find American Airline flights.
So where to turn, when there's no booking site to rule them all? The Times suggests ITA Software, which serves up data to sites like Orbitz (among many others) in the first place. Meta-search sites like Kayak are also helpful, though again, there's no definitive stop.
As long as airlines are so strapped for cash that a checked bag costs $25 and a bag of almonds costs $5, slap fights over fare data contracts probably aren't going to relax. [NYT]
Photo by Rene Schwietzke