JetBlue will no longer sell its tickets through 12 online travel agencies (OTAs) as part of the first phase of a new restructure program.
Instead, JetBlue will try and push travelers to book direct through its website. According to the airline, customers’ booking direct “allows the airline to reduce costs and keep ticket prices low.”
The OTAs include SmartFares.com, MyFlightSearch.com, WhatsCheaper.com, and other lesser-known sites. Big names such as Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity will still be allowed to sell JetBlue tickets.
According to JetBlue Executive Vice President for Commercial and Planning Marty St. George, the “overwhelming majority” of the airline’s ticket sales already come from its own website. JetBlue also guarantees that the lowest fare will always be available on its website or through a GDS rather than a third-party OTA.
While JetBlue promotes other benefits of using its website—access to promotions, easy seat upgrades, more manageable itinerary changes—recent studies suggest otherwise.
A government report by the General Accounting Office (GAO) from last year found that airline websites lack transparency and ease of use—the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) received a total of 17,904 complaints of which 862 (about 5 percent) were regarding airline fees for optional services.
In the case of preferred seating, fee information “is not always apparent to customers on airlines’ websites, unless the customer selects or begins to book a specific flight,” GAO said.
The websites aren’t rated much better by consumers, either. In a survey of 1,000 travelers published earlier this year by UserTesting, most airline websites, including JetBlue, scored low because of difficulty consumers experience getting information.