While answering a thread about searching fo low fares in polls & prefs I was reminded of this question I had been meaning to ask here. An exerpt from that thread as background:
A month ago I was shopping for flights HNL-NRT. I had been watching fares for a couple of months while waiting for my opportunity to buy. Finally I went to purchase... orbitz was beating, and had been beating all along, all competitors by a full $150/ticket (ANA 1501/1502 operated by Air Japan) and I needed two. On the final billing page of the process, though they came back saying "we're sorry, the fare has risen..." I think I would have saved 2 bucks vs. booking the same flight through united.com, and I wouldn't let me select seats. So I bought the ticket through united. (An odd twist in favor of UA though, I still couldn't select seats with them so rather than get stuck in the middle/back I shelled out another $200 or so and booked UA's own HNL-NRT flight!)
Any way I wrote to orbitz, complaining of being misled, and their response was that airlines change the fares from time to time without notifying them. Blah blah blah they have no low fare guarantee blah blah blah. The thing that gets me, though, is that most, if not all, of these sites seem to get their booking data from the same source! Look at the adress bar of your browser and the searches always come from the site ITN.net, Internet Travel Network, whom I believe is co-operated by American Express and Sabre.
SO... Who really is ITN.net??? How do all these different internet travel agencies, and assumingly the airlines themselves and various human travel agents rely on this one source for booking data, but come up with wildly different fares? Shouldn't the individual airlines have more direct access to their own bookings? Please, tell us how we really book our flights!!!
Thanks in advance,