Tag: Google

There’s Drama in Online Travel

V

In a press release  issued early today, Expedia, Kayak and Travelocity announced that they have formed FairSearch.org, a coalition of large online travel sites and travel technology companies, banded together in an effort to urge the Justice Department to challenge Google’s proposed $700 million purchase of ITA Software.

ITA powers some of the Web’s most popular airline-ticket search and booking sites, including Kayak.com and Hotwire.com.  Expedia (owner of Hotwire and Expedia.com) as well as Kayak and Microsoft, whose Bing search engine relies on ITA for airfare searches, argued to Justice Department antitrust lawyers that with ITA’s data and technology Google could gain an unfair competitive advantage because it would, “enable Google to manipulate and dominate the online air travel marketplace.  The end result could be higher travel prices, fewer travel choices for consumers and businesses, and less innovation in online travel search.”

It didn’t take Google long to respond from it’s blog, stating that the deal would not result in higher travel prices or fewer choices for consumers because ITA and Google aren’t competitors, and that ITA doesn’t set ticket prices for sell tickets and Google doesn’t plan to either.  Google also noted that the three most popular travel websites in the U.S. – Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity – all use data provided by ITAs competitors. (Doh!)

Google said that it won’t be “choosing winners and losers in online travel” because its goal is to build tools that drive more traffic to airline and online travel agency sites and that those tools will create more overall online sales for those sites.   And by combining ITA’s ability to analyze data on seat availability and pricing with Google’s search engine could end the “frustrating experience” today’s airfare search, where a “simple two-city itinerary involves literally thousands of different options.”

Sounds a lot like the plot to the popular TV mini-series “V”.  The one where aliens move in and say they come in peace, but actually have sinister motives.  They claim to only need a small amount of Earth’s resources, in exchange for which they will share their advanced technological and medical knowledge.  As a small number of humans begin to doubt the sincerity of the seemingly benevolent aliens, it’s discovered that the aliens have spent decades infiltrating human governments and businesses and are threatening to take over the Earth.

Awesome.  Can’t wait to see how the real-life version plays out.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Earlier today Southwest Airlines announced a winter airfare sale with some one-way tickets as low as $30.   The sale lasts until Thursday, and like any fare sale, there are restrictions.  With this sale, customers can buy one-way tickets for $30, $60, $90 or $120 based on length of travel.  Travel dates are good between December 1 and December 15 and January 4, 2011 and February 16, 2011.  Sundays are not included in this fare sale.
  • Virgin America also announced a “No Tricks, Just Treats” fare sale today. Virgin America is now offering low one-day advance purchase fares to all of its destinations for travel between Oct. 26 through Oct. 31, 2010.  Tickets are on sale today and can be purchased via Virgin America’s Web site (www.virginamerica.com) and at 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (1.877.359.8474). Restrictions, taxes and fees apply. Tickets must be purchased by Oct 30, 2010, and travel must occur between Oct. 26 and Oct. 31, 2010.
  • Starting next month, federal regulators will start cracking down on a new rule that requires air passengers to submit personal identification data when booking for flights and show a recognized government ID at the airport that matches the information. The rule was introduced last year, but the Transportation Security Administration imposed a year-long grace period that ends at the end of the month.

Google Offers Free Holiday WiFi in 47 airports

Google is planning to foot the bill for WiFi at 47 of the nation’s airports for the rest of the year, beginning TueGoogle wifisday.

With some travelers spending more time on the ground in airports than on planes during the busy flying season, now seemed an especially fitting time to offer up the perk, Google said.

The list includes the international airports in Miami and Orlando, which are among the world’s 30 busiest airports, as well as five others in Florida. Travelers through smaller airports, such as Montana’s Billings and Bozeman, will also benefit.

Upon signing in, users will be asked if they want to set Google as their homepage or try the Google Chrome browser.

The company is also running a charity campaign to raise money for three nonprofit groups: Engineers without Borders, One Economy Corporation and Climate Savers Computing Initiative. When Google WiFi users first log on, the landing page will offer them the option of donating to the organizations. Google will match donations of up to $250,000 per airport.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • British police have charged a United Airlines pilot with being over the alcohol limit while on the job at London’s Heathrow Airport.  Scotland Yard say they have charged 51-year-old Erwin Vermont Washington with having too much alcohol in his system while working as a member of aviation staff.  Police and airline officials say that Washington was pulled from United Airlines Flight 949, due to fly from London’s Heathrow Airport to Chicago around noon on Monday, after a co-worker suspected him of being drunk.  The flight was canceled and the plane’s 124 passengers were put on other flights.
  • The Air Transport Association said Monday it expects a 4% decline in the number of people traveling over the Thanksgiving Day holiday, reflecting the erosion in demand with the smaller economy. But with seat-capacity cuts and steep airfare discounting across the industry, planes are likely to remain full, the trade group said.  The busiest travel days are expected to be Nov. 20, 25, 29 and 30.
  • Continental Airlines has started offering wider, lie-flat sleeper seats on long-haul international routes to catch up with some of its top rivals. British Airways and Delta Air Lines, competitors in the New York market, already offer business class lie-flat seats on many routes.  The maiden voyage of Continental’s new seats, on a Boeing 777, flew a week ago to Newark Liberty International Airport from Tokyo.
  • Air Canada announced it will now automatically notify travelers about canceled trips through e-mail and text messaging, aiming to ease airport lineups and waits for the call center.  Canada’s largest carrier will also provide details directly to consumers about rebooked flights.  During last winter’s Christmas holidays, Air Canada was flooded with complaints after being forced to cancel or delay flights due to snowstorms.