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Court Demands American Airlines List Its Flights On Orbitz

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the information-wants-to-be-compelled-to-appear dept.

Transportation 93

schwit1 writes "American Airlines, which removed its flights from Orbitz.com late last year, was ordered by a Chicago court on Thursday to allow the travel site access to its flight and fare information. American Airlines filed an anti-trust suit against Travelport in December, claiming that the company, which owns just under half of Orbitz's shares and runs the service compiling fare information for travel site, was trying to control the sale of tickets. Before the lawsuit, a considerable amount of American's revenue had been coming from tickets booked through Orbitz and Travelport."

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Free Trade? (3, Interesting)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335474)

Can't I sell my goods and services where I want?

Re:Free Trade? (3, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335508)

Can't I sell my goods and services where I want?

Not when you have a contract to sell them through an intermediary.

Re:Free Trade? (2)

jbengt (874751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337160)

Mod parent up.
If you read far enough into TFA, you'll see that this is a contract dispute, not a free trade dispute.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335532)

You can't prevent resale.

Re:Free Trade? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335652)

sorry.. SETIGUY.. you are clueless

Re:Free Trade? (2)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336260)

There are many people working on that. Try reselling tickets to concerts.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336404)

Hey, try reselling an iPad.
You can't even give them away for free :)

Re:Free Trade? (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338126)

You can give them away for free... If you read the article(s) about that, there are more details involved (trademarks, etc.).

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336720)

You can't prevent resale.

While that may be the case that isn't the topic of this article. Orbitz wants to force American Airlines to offer their fares through their travel site. Orbitz is not purchasing the fares and offering them for resale. They are brokering the sale and collecting a commission.

Even if this wasn't the case, I find it troubling that the government can force someone to sale their goods and services as wholesale to other retailers.

Re:Free Trade? (3, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335546)

There's absolutely no such thing as a Free Market. There is, by extension, no such thing as Free Trade either.

Can't I sell my goods and services where I want?

Yes, but within the law (well, technically you also can at least try outside of the law, but that's a different matter).

Now, in some sort of hypothetical anarchist/libertarian nation, you will find that without governments to enforce their law, cartels and mobs and the like will rise and enforce their laws.

At least with proper democratic governments, the laws are more subject to the will of the governed. Maybe not so much these days (and really, maybe not even in the olden days), but it's still better than having the laws set by kings, warlords, and mob bosses.

But either way, you still never end up with a Free Market or Free Trade.

Re:Free Trade? (0)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335554)

You bet your ass there's such a thing as free trade. Happens every day between states, and between provinces. Fair trade however is quickly becoming the norm, and if you want to see how bad it's getting you only need to look at NAFTA.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335762)

Not what the police said to my friend with a trunk full of liquor for his wedding.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335770)

"You bet your ass there's such a thing as free trade. Happens every day between states"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commerce_Clause [wikipedia.org]

Free, my ass, pal. Time for your Alzheimer's medication.

Re:Free Trade? (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336304)

You bet your ass there's such a thing as free trade. Happens every day between states, and between provinces. Fair trade however is quickly becoming the norm, and if you want to see how bad it's getting you only need to look at NAFTA.

hahaha...

Try to bring weapons, drugs, or people, across state lines, and tell me if you think free trade actually exists.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336630)

I think it's odd you mention bringing people across state lines. I don't think anyone is advocating total free trade of anything and anyone to the point of trafficking people. I think for most people, they consider the "right" to trade people is inferior to a more basic ideal of human freedom.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340618)

I think it's odd you mention bringing people across state lines. I don't think anyone is advocating total free trade of anything and anyone to the point of trafficking people. I think for most people, they consider the "right" to trade people is inferior to a more basic ideal of human freedom.

Exactly. Even most "free market" fanatics place limits on the markets they would implement.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336764)

Try to bring weapons, drugs, or people, across state lines, and tell me if you think free trade actually exists.

I think you meant international borders not state lines. I have relatives that live in a neighboring state and I never had problems transporting liquor, rifles, or relatives between the states. Now I remember a time when the state troopers were confiscating lottery tickets that were purchased in a neighboring state, but that shenanigans ended over a decade ago.

I'm sure there are rules concerning the amounts and frequency that liquor or rifles cross that state line, but I assume the state police have more important things to worry about.

Of course it could be illegal, but I haven't got caught yet. I'll play it safe from now on and leave the relatives at home.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337066)

When moving into some states that ban assault rifles, you may not bring rifles into the state that are currently banned, even if they were purchased before the ban date and hence would be grandfathered in had you lived in the state. If you try to register them, they'll be confiscated, and if you don't register them, you run the risk of being charged with felony possession of a firearm.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337678)

Lucky for me, I live in the southeastern US. So this isn't much of an issue for me.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340616)

Just to be clear, you are being deliberately obtuse, right? Sometimes humor doesn't come across very well.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36344984)

Yes.. I do not traffic in drugs, weapons, or illegal aliens across international borders which is what the parent was obviously talking about.

Yet I actually have transported guns, liquor, and relatives and friends across state line. It was called "Let's go to grandpa's house to shoot guns and drink some beer and whiskey afterwards."

:P

Re:Free Trade? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36355684)

The constitutional amendment that abolished prohibition also put the power to regulate alcohol back into the hands of the states. You can't legally bring alcohol into some states from other states for consumption or sale. Yes, de facto it's not risky to bring a bottle of wine from NJ to grandma's house in PA, but de jure it's illegal.

Re:Free Trade? (4, Insightful)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335696)

There's absolutely no such thing as a Free Market. There is, by extension, no such thing as Free Trade either.

True- in the real world there probably can never be absolutely free markets or trade. And by your logic there's no such thing as free speech or equality under the law, but just because we can't actually have them doesn't mean that they can't be ideals that we strive to emulate or guidelines for our legal system. In the same way I'll never manage to be perfectly honest or rational, but that doesn't mean that I can't attempt to avoid lying or try to overcome my biases.

At least with proper democratic governments, the laws are more subject to the will of the governed. ... it's still better than having the laws set by kings, warlords, and mob bosses.

Right - there will always be the organized use of force in the world, but as you pointed out some methods of organization are preferable to others. As part of the governed, I summarize my preference for regulations to be few over many, necessary over unnecessary, clear over vague, evenly over unevenly applied, etc as "I am generally in favor of free markets". I think that can be just as clear as your preference for democracy.

Re:Free Trade? (3, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336306)

I agree that "free trade" should be an ideal, but it should also be understood that it is impossible to ever achieve. The problem arises when people think that anything less than "free trade" is immoral. What that really means is that morality is impossible. That's the fundamental flaw with the Randists and the libertarians.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36344564)

What that really means is that morality is impossible.

Well, being completely moral probably is impossible.

That's the fundamental flaw with the Randists and the libertarians.

I don't know about that. Every real government (like every real person) is going to be flawed and fail to live up to its highest expectations. I don't see how "we're not perfect, but we can do better" is a fundamental flaw - that would seem to be the basis of any political activism of any kind.

No. (1)

198348726583297634 (14535) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337312)

There is no such thing as a "free market" because all markets are, by definition, based on sets of rules . That idea of the "market" is already "not free" by its nature. It implies a set of rules.

In other words, there's no such thing as a "natural market" that we can strive for. There is no such thing as an "ideal market" that we can point to as free from human invention. ALL MARKETS ARE A HUMAN INVENTION. Things like "buyer beware" - someone came up with that. Things like "the government should only enforce contracts" - someone came up with that. Things like "don't lie about the ingredients in your prepared food" - someone came up with that.

When people toss around words like "free market" these days, you have to pay very close attention to who's saying it, because some people use it to mean "just enough regulation to help my big business donors" while others use it to mean "just enough regulation to support my every-man-for-himself fantasy".

Nowhere in anyone's discussion is an acknowledgment that there's not really any such thing as a "free market", that it's all a matter of picking useful rules. But that's what it is - picking useful rules that serve the people involved.

Re:No. (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36344692)

all markets are, by definition, based on sets of rules ... ALL MARKETS ARE A HUMAN INVENTION

That's quite an assertion, could you please back it up? I don't think markets are a human invention any more than "the mating game" is a human invention. Both are aspects of human behavior, but both predate any deliberate planning, and would continue to exist without human-made (rather than natural) rules.

"buyer beware" - someone came up with that

That advice on how to deal with a market, not a rule that creates one. Just like "don't be a slut" or "compliment her shoes" is dating advice, not a rule that created dating.

"the government should only enforce contracts" ... "don't lie about the ingredients in your prepared food"

Those are ideas about how people want to modify already existing markets. Just like laws against rape are government-enforced changes to preexisting mating behavior. People will have sex (and get jealous) and trade things (and specialize) simply because they are human, not because someone decided that they should behave that way.

When people toss around words like "free market" these days...

Yes, yes. You don't like free-market advocates.

But that's what it is - picking useful rules that serve the people involved.

That's your advice on how to regulate markets, but doesn't at all support your assertion that markets exist only after people make up rules for them.

Re:Free Trade? (2)

pentalive (449155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335722)

There's absolutely no such thing as a Free Market. There is, by extension, no such thing as Free Trade either.

..., you will find that without governments to enforce their law, cartels and mobs and the like will rise and enforce their laws...

But if the only laws the government makes are to prevent cartels and mobs, but no other law, isn't there then a "Free Market"?

Re:Free Trade? (3, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336292)

There's absolutely no such thing as a Free Market. There is, by extension, no such thing as Free Trade either.

..., you will find that without governments to enforce their law, cartels and mobs and the like will rise and enforce their laws...

But if the only laws the government makes are to prevent cartels and mobs, but no other law, isn't there then a "Free Market"?

Absolutely not. I do agree that the government should work to prevent cartels and mobs, as well as minimizing the impact the government has on a market, but any laws whatsoever, by definition, are not a free market.

That's the fundamental flaw of the libertarians. I agree a lot with their end desires, but they pretend to be ideologically pure. But reality is their ideals can never be achieved. If you believe you can be ideologically pure, you try to enforce an impossible policy. That can never end well.

Re:Free Trade? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336508)

Libertarians believe in necessary regulation. Those which don't simply don't know they aren't libertarians but anarchists. We DO have names for these things; you are hereby invited to use the proper ones.

"Libertarians believe in necessary regulation." (2)

198348726583297634 (14535) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337360)

Hey, so do socialists.

That's great. So we're all on the same page.

I guess the only thing we disagree on is what's "necessary" when it comes to regulations.

But at least we've got a starting point, right?

cheers,

Re:Free Trade? (1)

Weirsbaski (585954) | more than 3 years ago | (#36339826)

Libertarians believe in necessary regulation.

Everyone believes in "necessary" regulation. The question is what do you, I, etc, consider necessary?

Re:Free Trade? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36343862)

Everyone believes in "necessary" regulation. The question is what do you, I, etc, consider necessary?

I'm talking about the difference between a libertarian and an anarchist here, not the difference between a libertarian and your mom.

anarchy is (also) libertarianism (1)

manaway (53637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340478)

Libertarians believe in necessary regulation. Those which don't simply don't know they aren't libertarians but anarchists. We DO have names for these things; you are hereby invited to use the proper ones.

And you are hereby invited to educate yourself on the various meanings of this particular term.

Anarchy (from Greek: anarchí, "without ruler") may refer to any of several political states, and has been variously defined by sources. Most often, the term "anarchy" describes the simple absence of publicly recognized government or enforced political authority. When used in this sense, anarchy may or may not imply political disorder or lawlessness within a society. In another sense, anarchy may not refer to a complete lack of authority or political organization, but instead refer to a social state characterized by absolute direct democracy or libertarianism.

Source: Wikipedia [wikimedia.org] ; emphasis added. Some libertarians may be surprised to find some like-minded people among the anarchists. You are also invited to realize that many political terms are used differently by different people in different circumstances, for example: "national security." This double meaning is a source of endless confusion, often purposeful.

Re:anarchy is (also) libertarianism (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36355416)

Some socialists may be surprised to find some like-minded people among the communists and fascists. What does that say to you?

Re:anarchy is (also) libertarianism (1)

manaway (53637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36358420)

Presuming you're not just generalizing that all people have things in common, you raise a good point. How to talk about politics when nearly all the popular terms are biased or peculiarly interpreted. The arguments become too abstract to be useful and are thus more appropriate for a Wikipedia "talk" page, Oxford dictionary meeting, or /. discussion. Instead, pick an issue. Are there facts? Are there actions and consequences that are fair to all participants?

Re:Free Trade? (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36340660)

Libertarians believe in necessary regulation. Those which don't simply don't know they aren't libertarians but anarchists. We DO have names for these things; you are hereby invited to use the proper ones.

Hmm.... I wonder if we were to read the part of my post that was replaced with an ellipsis, what it would say.

"Now, in some sort of hypothetical anarchist/libertarian nation, you will find that without governments to enforce their law, cartels and mobs and the like will rise and enforce their laws."

Wow, no fucking way! I actually did use those labels! Amazing!

Re:Free Trade? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36344360)

And yet, you managed to conflate them when they are actually utterly different things. Too bad that is not amazing, but pathetically typical.

Re:Free Trade? (2, Interesting)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335908)

Are tyrants and warlords really worse than the current situation? At least with warlords there is a meritocracy of sorts. (The strongest are in charge). In the current situation the most duplicitous make the laws for their own benefit, while enriching their pockets, and claiming to serve society. The most conniving are the alpha dogs. Give me a meritocracy based on steel and might any day over a meritocracy based on duplicity and lies.

I would rather have an outcome based on an old fashioned gun battle, than being decided by a team of overpriced lawyers hired to stretch the truth beyond recognition to a jury. At least with a gun fight you are not lying to yourself and saying your cause has any moral high ground. This is what the current legal / governmental climate in the USA, has led me to believe.

-When the laws become criminal, only criminals obey the laws.

Re:Free Trade? (2)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336302)

Are tyrants and warlords really worse than the current situation?

I commend you for being honest. Insane, but honest.

At least with warlords there is a meritocracy of sorts. (The strongest are in charge).

You are right that it's a form of meritocracy, but it's a meritocracy of the worst kind. It's a meritocracy of "might makes right".

In absence of any other form of equality or meritocratic society, might makes right is at least something, but it's the worst of all possible somethings. The only thing it has going for it is that it is, at least, something, but that's it. We can do so much better than that. Democracy is all but infinitely better than a "might makes right" system.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

nagnamer (1046654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36341082)

Are tyrants and warlords really worse than the current situation? At least with warlords there is a meritocracy of sorts. (The strongest are in charge). In the current situation the most duplicitous make the laws for their own benefit, while enriching their pockets, and claiming to serve society. The most conniving are the alpha dogs. Give me a meritocracy based on steel and might any day over a meritocracy based on duplicity and lies.

Imagine a system that is far more scarier. A virtual-reality-like world where most choices you make when you vote, buy, recommend, write about, lead all in the direction of supporting the system, regardless of how radical or crazy it may seem to you. In such a system, compliance to the rules of the system is manufactured not by physical threat or something equally tangible and readily perceivable as bad, but by subliminal system of reward and punishment. Correct behaviour may be to "watch a good movie", or "eat lots and lots of tasty food", or "buy something nice for you", "get a diploma", "drive a car"... and anything that may obstruct the system leads to denial of those rewards that you are taught to crave, creates anxiety, causes suffering. It is difficult to fight this type of system because you don't see it doing anything bad to you, and you don't see a need to fight it. It keeps you in check by satisfying your "needs" that it manufactures itself. It is also difficult to fight such a system because it's not represented by governments, police, or any singular entity that can be identified as the system. It's a perfect system: completely transparent to its subjects, and highly effective.

On the other hand, tyrants and warlords do not last long, because they are readily identified. Even when it's hard to get rid of them, at least you know the actual source of repression.

It's a difference between a brutally violent father, and a manipulative daddy that gives you candy to suck his buddy's dick.

Re:Free Trade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36339944)

All involuntary governance is rule by mob and cartel.

Over-reach! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335562)

Keep government hands off our anti-competitive business practices.

Re:Free Trade? (1)

BenJCarter (902199) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335836)

Not in Chicago apparently.

Re:Free Trade? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335930)

For trade to be free, traders need to be free to resell goods and services - so if you're selling in market A but not market B, someone can buy your product in market A and sell it in market B. So the availability of the product across a range of marketplaces is taken care of through a free-market mechanism.

Airline tickets, though, can't be resold. So we've already got a constraint on the market that stops it from reaching the ideal of free trade. The court order in the article is another constraint to counteract the first one, to get us back to the results we'd expect from a nice, theoretical free market.

About time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335476)

I'd always felt that AA pulling their listings was simply a way for them to make more money by being LESS competitive on price...

Re:About time (2)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335526)

Airlines want to pull their listings from sites like these because the sites take a percentage of each sale. The airlines can charge lower fares and still maintain their profit margins by only offering tickets on their own sites. Southwest Airlines doesn't offer fares through these sites for exactly that reason.

Re:About time (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337110)

That doesn't seem to help the prices much for many of the places I fly. Southwest occasionally comes in $20 or so under the others, but often is as or more expensive than the majors. Even flying from Los Angeles into Dallas, Southwest's hometown, it's often more expensive than American and sometimes even United and Continental -- even when Continental is flying into Love Field.

Re:About time (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335838)

Fuck American Airlines. Fly American if you want to stare at a "fasten seat beat" light for the entire flight. It's their policy. Fly American if you want to die from a blood clot.

Am I missing something? (4, Insightful)

Krozy (755542) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335494)

Maybe I'm misinterpreting the article, but what is up with a business (AA) being forced to use a specific third party processor owned by a competitor and paying for the "privilege" in this manner. AA is the originator of the information and it should be at their discretion to which global distribution systems they publish it to According to wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_reservations_system) there are a handful of systems. The top two each serve just under half of the U.S. market share, one of which is created by American Airlines. The next largest is Travelport's "Worldspan" which is used by Orbitz.

Re:Am I missing something? (1)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335524)

a business (AA) being forced to use a specific third party processor owned by a competitor and paying for the "privilege"

AA isn't paying for the privilege, the customer is. What AA is objecting to is people being able to compare prices and buy tickets at the same site.

Yes, the customer pays indirectly, but that still (3, Insightful)

Krozy (755542) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335566)

Yes, the customer pays indirectly, but that still doesn't change the fact that AA is being forced to provide the information through an intermediary that is a competitor. We have both sides that have a stake in how the information is transferred in an effort to reduce costs on their end, increasing profits, which inversely affects the other. I'm torn between siding with AA who owns the information, and Orbitz who was/is already wired to use their provider. As a consumer, I could wash my hands of this as I rarely fly AA due to costs, but I think the principle of the matter is important here.

Re:Yes, the customer pays indirectly, but that sti (3, Insightful)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335774)

As a consumer I am paying for the quick comparison.

If AA wants to charge less through their own site, then maybe I will check it, but almost always it's cheaper and easier to book through orbitz or travelocity (not always though, and the through the airline tickets are usually easier to reschedule).

The airlines get enough government help that I don't really mind them being forced to let me comparison shop.

Re:Yes, the customer pays indirectly, but that sti (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336522)

It depends on how Orbitz is tacking on their fee. If they are displaying AA's actual price and then charging the customers, that is one thing. More likely they are displaying an artificially high fare, misrepresenting the actual price of flying AA.

Note, of course, that AA has no problem misrepresenting their own fares, not including fees and taxes and everything else that goes into the cost of a ticket.

Of course, people who fly AA are never really deciding the ticket based on cost, unless they are choosing the higher of two numbers.

Re:Am I missing something? (5, Informative)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335564)

Although I mostly agree with AA's stance here (with what little I know about the whole situation), the court is enforcing a contract AA has with Orbitz. This isn't the court simply telling them they have to deal with Orbitz, but that they have to honor their contract with them.

Also, airlines are subject to greater regulatory restrictions than most other industries for, what I think should be fairly obvious reasons. Those reasons don't directly apply here, but it's not like this industry is as free to do as it wishes as is normal for the rest of the private sector.

Re:Am I missing something? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36338002)

Maybe I'm misinterpreting the article, but what is up with a business (AA) being forced to use a specific third party processor owned by a competitor and paying for the "privilege" in this manner.

Being forced to do something is sort of what happens when you sign a legal contract saying you will do that something.

AA is the originator of the information and it should be at their discretion to which global distribution systems they publish it to

Perhaps they should have thought about that originally when they used their discretion which system to publish to and choose Orbitz, and then signed a contract that they would publish with them for so many years.

Personally I am glad that when a company agrees to do something and signs paperwork saying they will do it, that a court can and will force them to follow through.

I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (1)

Stormin (86907) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335514)

Remember, AA was the first airline who wanted to be more "equitable" about distributing the fees and started charging fees to check bags.

Ostensibly they did this to be more fair to the people who didn't check bags.

Of course the other major carriers quickly followed suit.

My experience has been that the whole flying experience was heavily degraded by this misguided decision. Even when I pay the fee to check my bags, I'm forced to wait while people who were too cheap to do so try to shove their bags into overhead compartments they just won't fit in. Thus, the checked bag fee slaps me twice - once when I pay it, and again when I have to deal with people who should have, but didn't.

American Airlines came up with that idea, and I don't think I will ever set foot on one of their planes again as a result.

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (0)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335576)

I've never quite understood this type of "single issue" consumer. Although I don't fly very much, of all the major airlines, I've found AA to provide the best service. Even if I would be someone who blamed AA for the checked baggage fee (as though all the other airlines aren't responsible for their own actions!), I don't see how choosing a less enjoyable flight is going to change anything. It won't eliminate baggage fees, and it will simply reward worse service. I really can't see any upside to this.

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (4, Interesting)

TexVex (669445) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335708)

I've never quite understood this type of "single issue" consumer.

I have this "single issue" mentality, and I think it makes both logical and emotional sense. Basically, consumers are individuals and have very little power in a marketplace dominated by huge corporations. We don't get to haggle over prices much; it's pretty much take-it-or-leave-it. We can theoretically vote with our wallets by going to a competitor.

However, the big businesses just end up colluding. It's usually not overt. They're not having meetings to decide these things, but they follow each other when their "competitors" show some success. So eventually, all the competition is overcharging and under-providing while claiming that the value they provide is fair. They collectively have the upper hand, because a consumer can't say "no" to ALL of them. If you gotta make a phone call or get on the Internet or travel somewhere fast, then you have to agree to be taken advantage of by these implicitly colluding corporate monsters.

So over time, things get worse and worse for the consumer. ISPs cap bandwidth. Phone companies get away with making their users pay for minutes they never use, or charge them ten times as much when they use too much. Airlines begin to nickel-and-dime you to for everything -- any bet on how long it will take them to start installing pay toilets on the planes?

We poor consumers basically just keep taking the worst of it, until we finally just refuse to take it any more. Sometimes when it gets really bad, we file class-action lawsuits. Those make lawyers rich and make us feel better, and sometimes the defendant backs down and plays nice for a while. But if banding together and suing is not an option, then we have to use whatever other weapons we have to fight back. One good way is to bad-mouth an offending business at every opportunity.

As screwed-over consumers, the value we get from latching on to such a "single issue" is not that we are refusing our patronage to an entity who offended us, but that it gives us something specific to focus on when we share our tales of woe in hopes of costing them more business than just our own.

I haven't bought a Sony product since the PS2 -- back then my single issue was proprietary formats. Then it was the rootkit. Then Blu-Ray, then removing Linux from the PS3, and now their inability to keep from being rooted like a clogged toilet.

A few weeks back, I ordered a steak from the Chilis across the way. It was a to-go order, and the place is walking distance from my house. I'm not expecting much -- it is Chilis after all, but I do expect that the food be edible. I ordered it cooked medium. Now, I knew I was taking a bit of a risk. The quality of that place has steadily gone down over the last year -- food badly seasoned, or brought to the table cold when dining in, or long waits both before and after ordering, what have you. So, I go get my steak, and don't check it before I leave. I get home, open it, and find a thin piece of shoe leather. The cook had sliced it open down the middle, must have clearly seen that it was beyond well-done, and boxed it up for me anyway. Not wanting to bother going back for a new one, I decided to have a bite anyway, and discovered that it was old meat on the verge of being rancid (which must be why they overcooked it.) That was over the top. So I took the food back and pointed out every horrid thing about that box of food to the manager. When he offered me a replacement, and coupons for next time, I told him I'm never setting foot in there again. And I haven't. Not just his Chilis, but every other one, and I've even diverted group lunches at work to other places by telling that story.

It's not that they fucked up one steak. It's that their quality has been declining over the last couple years while their prices have been going up. The steak was just the final straw, and it's a good solid example of why not to give them my custom. Maybe they'll learn their lesson; if I ever become convinced of that then I'll give 'em another try.

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335816)

>>I've never quite understood this type of "single issue" consumer

While I was flying out of McCarran on USAirways, the plane next to mine caught fire. Was fun and scary to watch all the fire trucks come out and put out a fire on a (thankfully) empty plane. Those people didn't get home to Santa Barbara that night.

Then on my flight, a railing that was part of the luggage rack broke off during takeoff, and hit the face of the woman sitting behind me, bloodying her. The flight attendance ran up, said "Oh my goodness!" and pushed the railing back up into place. Which then fell and hit the woman in the face again.

That might make me a single issue consumer, but after that experience (or pair of experiences), I will only fly USAir as the last resort.

Well, to be fair, I've had lots of bad experiences with USAir, but that was the event that put it over the top for me.

As far as the checked baggage thing goes, it turns out it's costing taxpayers $250M a year in additional TSA fees (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/03/04/carry-luggage-costing-taxpayers-tsa-millions-year/)

In other words, the entire thing is a boondoggle that not only doesn't make any sense, but also clogs up all the overhead bin space and delays flights. One guy sitting with me absolutely refused to gate check his bag after all the overhead bin space filled up, and they eventually had to just throw him off the flight.

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36337076)

If you've ever watched what happens to gate-checked luggage, you'd be reluctant to gate-check too. I particularly liked the stroller that got stuck halfway down the chute. The gate-checkers just threw heavier bags down until the stroller got "unstuck", and the bent pieces arrived at the bottom. (Also, watch out for grease & oil getting on your bags -- It's hell to clean up from the car or the carpet at home.)

As for USAir: The last time I flew usair, I got to the airport in plenty of time. So early, in fact, that I could have caught an earlier flight. But usair wanted to charge me extra to take the earlier flight that was mostly empty. Ok. Fine. I'll just wait the extra hour. A storm comes up on the other end. A single, small, very localized fast-moving cell. Usair cancels the flight. They didn't have to. The cell was clear of the area in a couple of minutes. But the flights were empty, and costing usair money. So they canceled due to weather. Which, in the fine print, means they don't have to compensate us for screwing us passengers over. I then got to spend some 20+ hours in the airport, watching some 6 other usair flights depart for my destination. I got to watch flights depart with empty seats just so usair could transport extra cargo and the luggage of prior passengers. Thanks to TSA, I had no drinks or food. The food/drink in the airport was horribly outrageously overpriced. (Also inedible due to lactose contamination.) And I had to keep going through security over and over again, forcing me to dispose of and repurchase anything I bought. The trip was so bad that I could have driven to my destination, turned around, driven back, turned around, and driven home again before I ever got to board a plane. (And it would have cost my company less than that overpriced usair ticket.) And I could have EATEN and not had urine so concentrated that looked darker than cola. (And did I leave out the part where the airports AC was designed for thousands of people? So at night, when mostly empty, it got downright Arctic! No blankets, of course. In fact, usair kicked us out to baggage claim. I spent the night curled up around my laptop running while(1) for the warmth!)

Usair sucks big time. DO NOT FLY THEM! THEY WILL SCREW YOU OVER! (In an attempt to extract ever more money from you!) This is not a case of you get what you paid for. This is a case of you've already paid and are committed, now that you have no other options, lets see what else usair can extract out of you.

Seriously: DO NOT FLY USAIR! YOU WILL REGRET IT!

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336376)

The obvious answer is that airlines should bring in strict cabin baggage limits and enforce them. If your bag is larger than a certain size, tough, either check it in or it wont go on the airplane.
Solves the problem of people trying to fit bags that are too big into the overhead lockers.

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337128)

Most of them already do that. I've even seen TSA refuse to review bags that are too big for the overhead compartments, directing the passenger to check the bag. The gate agents have likewise required certain people to gate-check bags that are unlikely to fit in overhead compartments.

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36338620)

The obvious answer is that airlines should bring in strict cabin baggage limits and enforce them. If your bag is larger than a certain size, tough, either check it in or it wont go on the airplane.

Doesn't help if your bag is not larger than that size, but the overhead space is full (because everyone else brought their limit or over). Then you're faced with checking it (and saying goodbye to any high value items, as the TSA turns a blind eye to their employees pilfering checked baggage) or not flying and eating the ticket cost.

Re:I avoid AA Like the plague anyway (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336644)

Remember, AA was the first airline who wanted to be more "equitable" about distributing the fees and started charging fees to check bags.

Ostensibly they did this to be more fair to the people who didn't check bags.

Of course the other major carriers quickly followed suit.

Actually, the various fees are a good way to shift costs to an airline's least important customers - the infrequent fliers. By charging them more, especially since they are more likely to check a bag, the ticket price can be kept lower. That benefits frequent fliers, who also don't pay to check a bag.

My experience has been that the whole flying experience was heavily degraded by this misguided decision. Even when I pay the fee to check my bags, I'm forced to wait while people who were too cheap to do so try to shove their bags into overhead compartments they just won't fit in. Thus, the checked bag fee slaps me twice - once when I pay it, and again when I have to deal with people who should have, but didn't.

American Airlines came up with that idea, and I don't think I will ever set foot on one of their planes again as a result.

Fortunately, the airlines seem to be getting a bit better at catching oversize bags before ether go on. While it has had the side effect of requiring more gate checking; I've never experienced any significant delay as a result. Agin, the infrequent flier bears the brunt of it, since they are the last to board and most frequent fliers have grabbed the much of the overhead space.

I think we'll see more and more al la carte pricing as it allows airlines to increase revenue while keeping base ticket prices lower and effectively discriminate between frequent and infrequent fliers.

Southwest? (1, Interesting)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335528)

Why is American forced to list on Orbitz and not Southwest?
Is this step 1 in reregulating the airline industry?

Re:Southwest? (4, Interesting)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335538)

maybe they have some type of contract?

Useless Article - Court Reasoning Not Explained (5, Insightful)

brucek2 (208676) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335534)

I hate reading press accounts of court decisions that provide no useful information on what exactly the court was ruling on or how it reached its decision. Without this information, we have no idea if this decision was as broad as whether all airlines must list with central clearing houses (and why), as short-term / technical as over a paperwork error resulting in a temporary win for Orbitz until corrected by AA, or about something else altogether (ie there was a previously agreed to contract between the two companies that was still valid and that AA was trying to terminate early without sufficient justification.)

To be sure wait until the court decision is linked before forming any opinions, or at the very least until an article presents a credible explanation of what the issue being litigated is and how the court ruled on it.

Re:Useless Article - Court Reasoning Not Explained (1, Funny)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335604)

You must be new here.

Re:Useless Article - Court Reasoning Not Explained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335760)

I can't find the ruling anywhere online yet, but eventually it should appear here. [justia.com] It looks like they've been posting documents within one day so far, so it seems likely that it'll be up pretty soon. Check back if you're interested, I guess.

In case anyone else wants to search, the case is Travelport v. American Airlines, 10CH48028, Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division (Chicago). The judge is Lee Preston.

Re:Useless Article - Court Reasoning Not Explained (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36337156)

Well then I'm glad I didn't read TFA...i just assumed it was a useless summary because of the grammatical errors and spelling mistakes...but if the article is useless too, now I feel better somehow.

I DEmands it (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335536)

qbeCuz I am DA MAN! yo wass Up! aslo SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHOT!!!! tge thinbg wit the air planes is tgihja t qyou are a ivoklagune paujsayye adb y0iu siuck my goat dickewoia y78iujkw y7y7HUUGUJ(JO all the time!

Anti-Trust Abuse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335600)

If anything, an anti-trust suit should be raised against American Airlines for trying to monopolize the distribution of information about its flights in a way that hurts competition.

It's amazing how monopolists try to abuse anti-trust laws to restrict competition.

Re:Anti-Trust Abuse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335634)

WTF? This is the ramblings of an Obama voter. USA is doomed.

Court ordered purchases (1, Funny)

peterofoz (1038508) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335654)

I don't get it. A government court can order you (or a company) to purchase a commercial product you don't want to buy and its not even health insurance?

Re:Court ordered purchases (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335796)

"American's contract with Orbitz expires this year." - Most parts of the world do try to uphold contracts.

Re:Court ordered purchases (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336698)

I dont think that this statement is factually correct. What most of the world does is to have those that dont honor their contracts make it up in some form of compensation (normally monetary), rather than what we have here which is force them to do something specific.

This is civil law, not criminal.

It appears that even unreasonable monetary damages arent enough in the courts opinion, which is fucking unbelievable.

Re:Court ordered purchases (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337134)

I don't know about the rest of the world, but it is long-established precedence in the US that a court can order a party to fulfill its contractual obligations. I suspect this goes back to pre-US British common law, and that Britain and the British Commonwealth have similar tendencies. This doesn't remove the possibility of the court ordering financial remuneration in addition.

airline hosed by judge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335726)

If it were my company I would fly every plane I got to China and melt them down as scrap before I ever complied with that nazi shit.

Re:airline hosed by judge. (5, Insightful)

darkshadow88 (776678) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335846)

Or you could read the article and see that American Airlines had a contract, and that the court is just forcing them to abide by it.

Re:airline hosed by judge. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36338024)

But we shouldn't stop him from his plan though. It would improve the signal to noise level when it comes to things like expressing an opinion based on reading and thinking instead of picking them up from some guy with a cable show.

Varnish cache roulette (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335778)

Come on Slashdot. Fix your shit.

Re:fix (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36335900)

I'm seeing my comments today coming through at 0 as well when logged in, vs 1 as AC. Not sure what that is either. For a minute I thought I was getting mod bombed.

Re:fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335928)

I am also getting ads. I had that nice little checkbox to remove them with the "thanks for keeping slashdot great" WTF?

New Economy my ass (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36335830)

Hmm...wouldn't FORCING American Airlines to do that be against EVERYTHING the united states is all about?
Free market...free capitalism...

Should have gone like Southwest (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336126)

Only way to get tickets for Southwest is from Southwest. No bumbling around with other websites. Adding layers adds the possibility of confusion and errors. But then, I fly maybe once every 3-4 years, so I really don't care.

Re:Should have gone like Southwest (2)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336274)

On the contrary when I want to fly somewhere I want to put the origin, destination, dates (and even times of day if that's important for the trip) into a website and get a list of all the options sorted by price. I can then pick the cheapest one that's not at ridiculous times (eg. 6am flight from London Stanstead or something equally awful).

That's how it works in Europe at the moment with sites like expedia, opodo, skyscanner etc. and it's a godsend, it's also one of the strongest drivers of real competition between the airlines. The alternative, which American Airlines is hoping other airlines will also adopt, is that you must go to each separate carriers website and enter those details manually.

Of course no one will do this for the 10-30 airline options that exist between most European destinations so you'll get people going with whatever airline they have some crappy royalty program with or have flown with before.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/fast_track/9369897.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Should have gone like Southwest (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 3 years ago | (#36336438)

If you flew more often you would realize that this policy in fact will be the one causing confusion.

What do you do when you wanto fly from A to C through B, but Southwest only flys from A to B and from B to C you have to take another carrier? You have to book on TWO seperate sites.

Also, even if Southwest does fly from A to B to C, they may not have the best fare from B to C, so by flying the whole way with them you are throwing away money.

Re:Should have gone like Southwest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36336612)

Trust me, you don't want to book a multi-carrier flight through a third party website anyway. If there is ever a problem it can be a NIGHTMARE to sort it. Depending on the alignment of the moon and the stars, it's anybody's guess who actually has the power to make changes to the itinerary. Took me two hours to fix my shit the last time I made the mistake of multi-carrier through third party and missed a flight, and I was an elite member on both airlines at the time.

Anybody can miss a flight or have a flight cancelled. I will never again book multi-carrier through third party.

Re:Should have gone like Southwest (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337092)

Trust me, you don't want to book a multi-carrier flight through a third party website anyway.

While I do avoid multiple carriers on one leg of the flight, I just booked a multi-carrier open-jaw itinerary on Orbitz where I used one carrier on the way there, and another one on the way home. Saved me $150 (times 2 tickets = $300) over the single-carrier options.

This is where having all of the carriers on one website is really valuable, otherwise I'd have to price one-way flights on every carrier's website, then put them in a matrix to figure out the cheapest combination myself. I don't even know if two one-way flights are a cheap as a round-trip multi-carrier itinerary? American doesn't fly to both airports I'm going to, and their one-way flight cost more than my entire round-trip ticket.

I Sure Wish That The Courts... (0)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36337800)

I sure wish that the courts would stay out of business more. If AA doesn't want to sell their tickets through Orbitz, which previously generated a lot of business for them, that should be between AA, their customers, and their shareholders. Why is it the court's business to support Orbitz's business model over AA's?

Re:I Sure Wish That The Courts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36338072)

And I sure wish people would not spout off uninformed opinions. Here it is the court's business, but I won't tell you why, because then you wouldn't have learned anything. But since I'm sure you still won't enlighten yourself, I will give you a hint. It rhymes with "it is a MONTRACT dispute."

By the way, how do you reconcile your statements above with your sig?

This is always the case (1)

sargon666777 (555498) | more than 3 years ago | (#36349286)

If this was any other business I would agree 100% that they shouldn't have such a ruling forced onto them. In this case however the airlines accept a large amount of government money every year. If you are going to accept the government money when its offered you have to play by their rules.
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