Tag: Travelocity

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.

JetBlue Brings Back “All You Can Jet” Offer

JetBlue

JetBlue announced that it’s again offering an “All You Can Jet” Pass that provides travelers unlimited flights to more than 60 cities in a one month period.  Jet Blue offered this type of pass last year at the same time (post-Labor Day) – and it was wildly successful, so why not bring it back?

The ticket purchase price for the all you can jet offer is a flat $699 and will be valid seven days a week for flights between September 7th and October 6th. Customers can also select a less expensive pass that costs $499 – but blacks out Friday and Sunday flights.

You must join JetBlue’s frequent-flier program, TrueBlue, to buy the pass.  (Membership is free.) Those who buy a pass can start booking flights (online only) on August 23rd.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • According to Travelocity’s Labor Day data report, there’s good news for travelers looking for cheap flights over the upcoming holiday weekend.  The average domestic airfare is at its lowest point of the summer, and Labor Day weekend is the least expensive of the three summer holiday weekends to fly.  Additionally, the average year-over-year fare increase is lowest for Labor Day weekend travel.
  • Reuters reports that hotels on the Las Vegas Strip may be forced to lower their rates with the December opening of  the $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas which will introduce 2,000 more hotel rooms to market.  The two 50-story Cosmopolitan towers are wedged between two MGM-run resorts — the multi-tower CityCenter and the Bellagio — on the west side of the Strip.
  • The blog0sphere is reporting that US Airways is expanding service to New York City’s LaGuardia Airport in retaliation for Delta’s expansion at Washington, D.C.’s Reagan National Airport.  At the end of the day, this competitive air tussle is good for you, the traveler, as it increases capacity and drives prices down in these markets.

New Law Limits Airport Tarmac Waits to 3 Hours

delayed flightThe U.S. Department of Transportation announced that starting in April, U.S. airlines will be required to let travelers leave airplanes that have been sitting on the tarmac for 3 hours, provided doing so doesn’t jeopardize safety and security or disrupt airport operations.  Airlines that violate the rules face fines of up to $27,500 per passenger.

Under the new rules, carriers must provide passengers with food, such as pretzels or granola bars, as well as potable water within the first two hours a plane is delayed. They also must maintain working lavatories.  They also are barred from scheduling chronically delayed flights and required to provide passengers with each flight’s on-time record.

The new measure is tougher than many in the aviation industry expected and represents a significant victory for passenger-rights advocates.  Many airline executives had argued against setting a time limit for delays, saying large numbers of travelers could be stranded if carriers cancel flights out of fear of penalties that they otherwise would have flown.

The new rule leaves airlines and airports with little time to resolve a host of logistical issues.  One problem is that aircraft lined up for takeoff can’t easily pull out of the line of planes when they reach the time limit.  And returning to the gate may create a whole new set of headaches for passengers, who may find themselves stranded overnight rather than for several hours.

Here’s some more travel news you can use:

  • Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Priceline, Travelocity, the American Society of Travel Agents and the U.S. Tour Operators Association have all filed suit against New York City to stop the extension of a hotel tax on their clients, according to legal documents.  They allege that a law enacted in June to extend the city’s hotel room occupancy tax to “third-party travel intermediaries” is “unconstitutional and illegal,” as the city “has no inherent power to tax.”  The law, which came into effect in September, was passed as part of a measure by New York to solve a budget shortfall amid lower tax receipts due to the global economic downturn.
  • A fight broke out between passengers waiting at the busy Delta terminal at JFK, but no one was injured before police arrived.  The incident arose after some passengers were booted from an overbooked Haiti-bound flight.  Delta’s website shows that its scheduled 9am flight to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, departed nearly two hours late – and there’s reports of frustration on Twitter on other Delta flights as well.  Snow storms are likely to blame for the delays.