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Friday, December 31, 2010; 1:11 PM

American vs. travel Web sites; travelers vs. airport security

American dumps Orbitz

The fight between American Airlines and online travel agencies has gotten ugly.

After failing to agree on a contract with Orbitz, American announced on Dec. 21 that it would immediately discontinue displaying and selling fares through the Web site and its subsidiary Orbitz for Business.

A few days later, Expedia, in a show of solidarity with Orbitz, began listing American's flights and schedules last in its search display, after those of other airlines.

American had been trying to take greater control of the way it sells tickets by pressuring Orbitz to use the airline's electronic pipeline, called AA Direct Connect, to handle transactions. Airlines typically pay online sellers commissions, plus fees to the global distribution companies that provide the flight information. AA Direct Connect would cut out the global distribution systems.

"In today's competitive marketplace, it is important for American to be free to customize its product offerings to improve the customer experience as well as distribute its products in a way that does not result in unnecessary costs," Derek DeCross, vice president of sales for American, said in a written statement.

Countered Expedia: "American Airlines has shown it only intends to do business with travel agencies through a new model that is anti-consumer and anti-choice. We believe American Airlines' proposed direct connect model will result in higher costs and reduced transparency for consumers, making it difficult to compare AA ticket prices and options with offerings by other airlines."

Tickets already purchased through Orbitz remain valid, but travelers will have to make any changes through American Airlines reservations at 800-433-7300.

The year of travel woes

Those airport pat-downs and body scanners are really hitting a nerve.

According to a new U.S. Travel Association survey, three in four travelers believe that "there has to be a better way" to conduct security screening. Eight in 10 would support a trusted traveler program that would provide alternate screening measures for U.S. citizens who submit to a background check and meet other criteria.

Among other findings: Travelers dislike having to remove their shoes before going through a metal detector even more than the new TSA pat-downs. And three in four sup-port recruiting more profes-sional security personnel who are trained to use observation, dogs and sophisticated computer analyses as screening techniques.

Reporting: Nancy Trejos. Help feed CoGo. Send travel news to: cogo@washpost.com


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