What Benefit is There in Not Putting Your Airline's Airfares on an Aggregator Site?

So today, for shits & giggles, I was looking at fares out of a small, regional airport to Orlando, using an aggregator (in this case, Kayak.com). The fares that were coming up were outrageous; lowest fares started at ~$456 per person; vs ~$200 per person flying out of a major international airport.

So I went to the airport’s web site, and sure enough, Allegiant Air operates a direct, non-stop route from the regional airport to Orlando. I checked Allegiant’s web site and, whaddyaknow, their fares were about half of what I was seeing on Kayak.

I have absolutely no idea why Allegiant would choose not to let Kayak list their fares. It seems like a no-brainer to me: you want butts in your seats? Advertise those seats on web sites that people look at.

What benefit is there to an airline to keep their fares out of aggregators?

One of the most basic reasons is you don’t want to deal with pissed off customers when the aggregator sells or advertises seats you don’t have due to communication delays.

Another is the airline doesn’t want to give a percentage of their profits to the aggregator.

Budget airlines have it drilled into you that their fare is always the cheapest, so if you want the lowest fare you go to, say, Southwest.com, not Kayak or anywere else. If you could directly compare them you might find that Southwest actually wasn’t the cheapest. Also, in Southwests case specifically [bags fly free][the cost of bags is buried into the base fare], so you might be tempted by acheaper base rate or their competor, then either wind up paying more to check your bags or try to cram a weeks worth of luggage in two huge carryons.

I don’t know the answer to the OP’s question but related is how different aggregators seem to give vastly different results. I’ve flown many times DUB --> CLE round trip and each time I’ve found used an aggregator, but rarely the same one as I’ve found vastly cheaper flights with different connections by looking around.

There are a good number of consumers that earn a failing grade when it comes to comparing prices.

Many times, they are just too lazy.

Some people that complain about high prices just do not want to take the time to comparison shop and businesses like airlines and pharmacies know that which ends up helping businesses’ profit margin.

It all comes down to the aggregator/airline relationship and as mentioned, with the airlines’ own policy to incentivize booking at their site.

For instance on the aforementioned Kayak, they *will *list a Southwest flight, but instead of the fare quote it says “Info” and it links directly to SW’s site. Kayak gets something from Southwest for directing traffic their way but at the same time Southwest gets to take the customer away from the page where they can see other fares.

OTOH you have a carrier such as American Airlines, who when they list on Kayak will show the price, but will only allow you to click to go buy at their site. With other legacy airlines Kayak will show you alterantive costs for the same flight from other online travel agents like Expedia, Cheaptickets or Orbitz and let you click to go there.

I’ve worked for a couple of major travel websites and the answer is a combination of things. First, flight search is hard; the number of combinations is massive, especially for aggregators who have to deal with all the different airlines. They’re going to miss some flights. There are also some crazy, complicated pricing rules and sometimes the software screws up.

Second, the airlines generally hate the aggregators because they largely turn seats into commodities. People will often choose one flight over another because it’s $5 cheaper. This cuts the profit margin razor-thin. Airlines have fought back by not playing along, either by hiding fares or pulling back altogether. I believe Southwest doesn’t allow any travel sites like Expedia to sell their flights, which makes it hard on the aggregators.