Southwest Airlines sells most of its tickets directly. It doesn’t pay third parties to distribute its flights to consumers. It was the first major airline with a website (1996) and one of the first e-commerce sites to hit a billion dollars in revenue in a year.
Major U.S. airlines are a lot larger now and most transactions have migrated online. American shared with employees last week that they hit a new milestone for revenue generated at their AA.com website: $63 million in a single day.
According to American Airlines Senior Vice President of Revenue Don Casey,
On Tuesday [January 7], we set a new all-time record for revenue booked on aa.com: $63M, the second over $60M day ever. And Wednesday was the third over $60M day clocking in at $62M. Although Thursday didn’t quite make it over the $60M threshold, it was a record for the day and the last three days combined were the highest-ever revenue totals booked through aa.com, averaging over $60M per day.
Video killed the radio star, and with the move online American Airlines decided to eliminate home-based telephone reservations agents.
American has made real improvements to its website technology, especially in the areas of award redemption on partners and handling rebooking during bad weather and when flights go mechanical. My own wish list includes outstanding basic functionality like the ability to redeem systemwide upgrades and miles for upgrades without picking up the telephone.