Southwest Airlines Severs Ties with Travelocity.com


Monday, March 5th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


Southwest Airlines Co. said Friday that it has stopped selling tickets on Travelocity.com Inc. after the airline couldn't confirm the reservations some of its passengers had made on the popular Web site.

The decision, which took effect Thursday, won't have a major impact on Southwest.

It sold 1 percent of its tickets on Travelocity.com in 1999, a figure that didn't change much in 2000, Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin said.

Fort Worth-based Travelocity.com had been the only major online travel agency to sell Southwest tickets.

Unlike other airlines, the Dallas-based carrier has sought to keep the online sale of its tickets confined to its own Web site. That strategy enabled Southwest.com to become the first airline Web site to generate more than $1 billion in ticket sales last year.

Southwest has no plans to sell tickets on Travelocity.com's main competitor, Expedia.com, or any other major online travel agency, Ms. Harbin said.

"We are going to focus on Southwest.com," she said.

Southwest uses a computer reservation system that couldn't quickly confirm a reservation made on Travelocity.com.

A customer would receive a confirmation from Travelocity for a flight, Ms. Harbin explained, but Southwest might discover two hours later that it had no available seats on the flight.

In some cases, she added, the customer would already be at the airport.

"Somebody felt they had a confirmation, but that did not translate into a confirmation with Southwest," she said.

As a solution, Travelocity.com had asked Southwest to honor the tickets of passengers who had booked flights on the airline using its Web site, said Travelocity.com spokesman Al Comeaux.

The two sides couldn't reach agreement and mutually decided to end their relationship, he said.

"We realized having a great airline like Southwest was not a benefit if we couldn't assure that our tickets would be good," said Mr. Comeaux, who would not disclose how much of Travelocity.com's revenue came from Southwest.

Travelocity.com also asked Southwest to upgrade its Sabre systems, which would cost millions of dollars, Ms. Harbin said.

Travelocity.com said the only other major airline experiencing a similar problem is JetBlue Airways.

The New York-based start-up carrier has agreed to honor all confirmed reservations made on Travelocity.com, Mr. Comeaux said.

A JetBlue spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

The airline was not listed on Travelocity.com's Web site.