Happy New Year everyone. After a long break, your public servant who thinks you need to know more about the travel business is back to doing occasional work on this site. We figured you knew enough about the winter storm causing travel headaches last week that we didn't need to read more about it here -- you either were in it or you stayed inside, warm and dry.
The big news today is the growing dispute between some major airlines and online travel agencies. Last week it was Orbitz, and now it's Expedia that is no longer selling American Airlines tickets. More detail is inanother version of the story, found here.
This fight is an important one for consumers who like to shop and compare prices on multi-airline Web sites and not just on an individual carrier's site. Some airlines would like to undermine the traditional business model, in which the carriers pay big computer services, called global distribution systems. to sell tickets through both online and traditional brick-and-mortar travel agencies. The airlines' goal is to drive as much traffic as it can to their own sites, where you may -- or may not, you'll never know -- pay the lowest fare.