American Airlines pulled its flights from the Orbitz travel website on Tuesday in a dispute that could eventually affect the way travelers buy airplane tickets online.
The airline said its tickets sold previously on Orbitz are still valid. And American Airlines tickets can still be bought at the airline's own website as well as other travel websites. American pulled its tickets from the Orbitz for Business site as well.
The dispute is the latest sign of strains between airlines and the companies that sell airline tickets, including online sellers like Orbitz.
Airlines have traditionally paid sellers a commission. American also pays fees to the global distribution companies that provide the flight information.
Now, American wants Orbitz to get that flight information directly from the airline, cutting out the global distribution systems. American has said that will reduce costs and also allow it to make more personalized offers to customers such as hotels and car rentals.
The global distribution systems have not moved as fast as they could have to upgrade their technology, but American's move with Orbitz is "rather severe," said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst for Forrester Research. "It seems like they want to scorch the earth."
He predicted that travelers who want to fly on American will seek out its tickets on the airline's website. Travelers who don't know what happened with Orbitz, or don't care which airline they fly, are unlikely to notice American's absence from Orbitz, he said.
Traveler advocates have said American's move will make it harder to comparison shop.