United Airlines and Expedia are feuding. It all has to do with fares being posted online. It’s not looking great for Expedia at the moment. A court in New York just rejected a motion from Expedia to grant an injunction against United. The airline wants to withhold airfare information that is publicly available from Expedia once the contract between the two companies ends on Sept. 30. Expedia’s claim is that major harm would be done because the booking company would no longer be able to service customers who booked flights for Oct. 1 and beyond. What does that mean for you if you’ve already booked a trip with Expedia that begins after Oct. 1 of this year? It might be complicated.
It turns out that the question of who owns a customer when they book a United flight through Expedia isn’t exactly cut and dried. The judge who denied Expedia’s request for an injunction last week accused Expedia of failing to transmit customer contact information to United Airlines in a manner that is required by the contract between the two companies. United is claiming that testing was conducted to see just how far out of compliance Expedia really is. United found that 16 percent of 200 passenger records that were chosen at random had not been transmitted appropriately. That could create a real headache for a passenger who encounters some type of customer-service issue during a trip after Sept. 30.
You may remember that Expedia and United began locking horns earlier in the year when Expedia accused United of threatening to remove some of its flights from Expedia’s websites. Expedia also accuses United of trying to renegotiate the terms of the contract between the two parties by using its power as one of the largest airlines in the country to essentially bully the booking company. United sent Expedia a letter at the beginning of the year notifying the company that it intends to prohibit Expedia from offering United tickets after Sept. 30 of this year.
Is this really the end of the relationship between United and Expedia? It’s hard to say at the moment. There’s no doubt that the two parties will continue to battle it out in court for the rest of the summer. However, there is the possibility that a new contract will be created. One thing that you should keep in mind is that United tickets won’t just disappear from Expedia’s main website if the relationship between the two companies does end completely. Travelers will also lose the ability to book United flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. That portal just happens to be powered by Expedia.
[Image Source: Flickr/sporst]