Online travel agents like Expedia and Orbitz complain that Google's new flight search tool is unfairly squeezing them out of business. Searches like "NY to LA" now produce a Google chart of airfares, with links directly to airlines, that appear above the results for middlemen. The travel sites accuse Google of abusing its power in an effort to grab itself a big piece of the $110 billion online travel market, the Wall Street Journal reports.
It costs airlines some $10 more to process flights booked through online travel agencies than ones booked through their own websites, and Google—which classes its flight links as advertisements—has declined to comment on how much it is making by steering customers directly to airlines. Google's flight searches are powered by ITA Software, a fare-tracking site that it bought earlier this year after receiving anti-trust clearance. The travel sites say Google, at the behest of airlines, is violating its promise to use the new function to send more traffic to online agencies as well as airlines.