JetBlue has stated that it is within their rights to decide who to work with and who not to work with.
JetBlue Airways faces a new lawsuit accusing the company of preventing travel aggregators from displaying their ticket prices alongside those of its competitors.
According to Reuters, the complaint was filed by Fareportal Holdings, Inc., which operates CheapOair and OneTravel. The company claims that JetBlue is trying to prevent travel agents from accessing its tariffs, effectively forcing consumers to purchase tickets from their own website at higher prices than they might find through a booking platform.
According to Fareportal Holdings, JetBlue’s unusual strategy prevents potential customers from making “comparison purchases”. While consumers may not see any JetBlue tariffs when using an engine like CheapOair, they will not see any tariffs other than JetBlue’s on the provider’s own website.
This is reportedly helping JetBlue boost fares on some of its most popular and profitable routes, including flights to and from Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Florida and Puerto Rico.
“Amid the turmoil of the global pandemic, JetBlue is tacitly pursuing a program that is making it difficult for American consumers to save money when booking air travel,” the lawsuit reads. “The goal of JetBlue is simple: to make it difficult for consumers to compare stores when they want to fly.”
Interestingly, Fareportal says that since JetBlue has received federal grants, it doesn’t have to strive to compete with its competitors.
A JetBlue plane. Image via Wikimedia Commons / Flickr: User: Nathan Coats. (CCA-BY-2.0).
For example, the lawsuit indicates that JetBlue received more than $ 1.8 billion in tax benefits and loans from the Treasury Department to help mitigate the coronavirus. With this cash, Fareportal says, JetBlue will not suffer from the business it is losing by withholding prices from travel agents.
“JetBlue is using COVID handouts from American taxpayers to take American consumers away,” the lawsuit said.[making] It is more difficult, if not impossible, for travelers to determine the airline that offers the best combination of price and service. “
Reuters notes that Fareportal may be speaking from an isolated position: JetBlue actually gives other travel sites access to its tariffs. Expedia and Priceline, both subsidiaries of Booking Holdings Inc., are displaying JetBlue tariffs, although Fareportal claims the airline will soon be terminating its contracts with those platforms as well.
“We have healthy relationships with hundreds of other airlines,” said Fred Stein, Fareportal’s chief legal officer, in an interview. “A business relationship is all we are looking for.”
According to Reuters, JetBlue ended its relationship with Fareportal last year.
In a statement to Simple Flying, JetBlue defended its position, claiming that it was within its rights to decide which platforms to work with.
“The allegations in the complaint filed by Fareportal are frivolous and completely unfounded. It is standard industry practice for airlines to decide where to sell their products, “JetBlue said in a statement. “We are currently one of several major airlines that do not sell through Fareportal’s platforms.
“JetBlue guarantees that customers will always find the lowest JetBlue tariff on jetblue.com. Currently, over 10 aggregators and OTA websites offer customers the opportunity to compare JetBlue tariffs. JetBlue is recognized worldwide as a unique airline committed to competitive rates and first class service. “
JetBlue will be sued if tariffs are withdrawn from the booking website
JetBlue is suing travel booking websites for anti-competitive pricing.
Lawsuit filed against JetBlue for anti-competitive pricing