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Delta Keeps Pruning Website Distribution Relationships

@denschaal

Jun 21, 2014 2:00 pm

Skift Take

Delta wants to control its customers’ online and mobile experiences and to drive more traffic to Delta.com so it has parted ways with third-party websites that the airline can afford to cut ties with.

— Dennis Schaal

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Delta Air Lines

Delta has been on a 4-year spree in cutting ties to some third-party websites as part of a strategy to entice travelers to come directly to Delta.com. Delta Air Lines


There’s a long list of third-party websites that don’t have direct access to Delta’s flights, and Routehappy became one of the latest victims.

Routehappy, which has a flight amenity database and offers flight metasearch, tweeted that “Delta withdrew its flights from 30+ search sites, including us.”

That 30+ number — which Delta wouldn’t confirm or deny — is a bit misleading because even if it is correct, it goes back around four years when Delta began severing ties with mostly second tier websites for unspecified reasons.

These sites, at least one of which besides Routehaoppy lost access to Delta flights this year, include some not-so-second tier sites such as Hipmunk, TripAdvisor, CheapOair and Momondo, as well as CheapAir, Air Gorilla, Globester, Bookit, Onetravel and others.

In April, a TripAdvisor spokesperson wouldn’t provide much detail on its loss of access to Delta flights, but stated: “As with all of our partners, we have ongoing conversations with Delta. Their itineraries continue to be included within our search results, but we have no further information to share at this time.”

Users of TripAvisor flight metasearch, can book Delta flights through online travel agencies such as FlightNetwork, Travelocity and Expedia, but not from Delta.com.

And, some online travel agency sites, such as CheapOair, still offer Delta flights over the phone.

Delta has been coy about its reasons for severing ties with these distributors, but it undoubtedly has to do with driving more direct traffic to Delta.com, where traffic has lagged some of its competitors, and controlling the customer experience.

“Delta continuously reviews the websites where its content is available to ensure that our customers are presented with the best product information and pricing,” a spokesperson stated June 20. “Delta offers a wide range of fares for leisure and business travelers, and our best fares are always available at Delta.com.

“To ensure our customers have the best information available from Delta.com, we offer our Best Fare Guarantee as well as a 24-hour Risk-Free Cancellation policy.”

It is possible that Delta doesn’t like the ways it flights are displayed on some of these sites, or perhaps there are availability or economic issues involved, as well.

Routehappy declined to comment on why its direct access to Delta flights was terminated.

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