Request for Information: Exploring Industry Practices Impacting Distribution and Display of Airline Fare, Schedule, and Availability Information
About this Document
The industry group for travel sites, a number of its members which include online travel booking sites, and certain members of Congress have expressed concerns to the Department of Transportation (DOT or Department) regarding airline restrictions on the distribution and display of airline flight schedule, fare, and availability information (“flight information”). Specifically, concerns were raised about practices by some airlines to restrict the distribution and/or display of flight information by certain online travel agencies (OTAs), metasearch entities that operate flight search tools, and other stakeholders involved in the distribution of flight information and sale of air transportation. Airlines state that it is important for them to maintain control over the display and distribution of airline flight information while OTAs and metasearch entities that operate flight search tools state that actions taken by airlines to restrict the distribution or display of flight information are anticompetitive and harming consumers.
The Department is interested in learning more about this issue. Pursuant to the Department’s aviation consumer protection authority, we are requesting information on whether airline restrictions on the distribution or display of airline flight information harm consumers and constitute an unfair and deceptive business practice and/or an unfair method of competition. The Department is also requesting information on whether any entities are blocking access to critical resources needed for competitive entry into the air transportation industry. Finally, we are requesting information on whether Department action is unnecessary or whether Department action in these areas would promote a more competitive air transportation marketplace or help ensure that consumers have access to the information needed to make informed air transportation choices.