Airlines have complained about the hidden costs of online travel agency web-scraping for years, but Southwest takes that sensitivity to a much higher strategic level. Kiwi apparently is adept at out-maneuvering Southwest's page-scraping roadblocks so the courts will have to sort it all out.
Online Travel This Week
What is the maneuvering like behind the scenes when Southwest Airlines attempts to block Czech online travel agency Kiwi.com and the New York-based search engine Skiplagged from selling the airline's tickets without authorization?
Skift already reported about Southwest's lawsuit against Skiplagged, and the airline's intent to consolidate it with its ongoing litigation against Kiwi.
But from an online travel standpoint, it's fascinating to learn of the chess game behind the scenes among the parties. Or at least Southwest's telling of it in its lawsuit against Skiplagged.
Page Scraping and Kiwi Hacks
Southwest has long barred online travel agencies from scraping Southwest.com for flight information without authorization, and views that as a significant competitive advantage, presumably against online travel agencies and perhaps other airlines. Most airlines distribute their fares to consumers through multiple online travel agencies, but Southwest doesn't.
In the Skiplagged lawsuit, Southwest detailed how it implemented "technology blocks" to stop Kiwi and partners like Skiplagged from scraping Southwest data and selling hidden city tickets (the ones where travelers deplane at the stopover instead of continuing to their booked destination