Southwest Airlines famously doesn’t show up when searching online travel agency websites. Historically if you’ve wanted to buy a ticket on Southwest, you’ve had to go directly to Southwest to make the purchase.
- That saves money on distribution costs since they aren’t paying third parties
- But it means many consumers aren’t considering Southwest since they don’t even know about the option
The Southwest Airlines website became one of the first five e-commerce sites to hit a billion dollars in revenue, nearly a quarter century ago.
If you go to Expedia to find out about flights, you assume you’re finding out about all of the flights on a route. The Obama administration considered giving free marketing to Southwest by requiring travel sites to disclose when this isn’t the case (e.g. ‘Southwest Airlines flights are not included in these results’) but their Department of Transportation didn’t move forward with the 2014 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
Southwest even sues websites that display its schedules and fares without authorization. However there has been a loosening in recent years where Southwest has begun working with business travel portals to distribute its fares.
I knew that Southwest fares were available at kiwi.com largely because Southwest sued them for scraping their website. I didn’t know, though, that Southwest tickets are available at Trip.com.
I offer this not because I have any grand insights. I do not. In fact I do not know what’s going on here at all.
Trip.com is owned by The Trip Group, formerly CTrip. It’s China’s largest online travel agency. The parent company also appears to own Juneyao Airlines which is a Star Alliance connecting partner.
Does anyone know how Trip.com is able to sell Southwest Airlines tickets, since other consumer travel sites aren’t permitted to do so? What’s going on here? I never even knew the flights were for sale on this site until now.