back to article Google settles with DoJ over flight data buy

Google has reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice that would allow it to complete its $700m acquisition of flight data outfit ITA Software. Under the agreement, Google must continue to develop ITA's QPX travel software and license it to third-party websites under "commercially reasonable terms", while erecting …


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Google participation can only benefit the travelling public

Presently all the GDS/GRS systems such as Sabre, Galiileo, Amadeus - who supply ticketing services to travel agents and the like - all have their own public-facing retail outlets such as Travelocity, etc.

Then you have the 'independent' Expedia (owner of TripAdvisor), Kayak, etc.

What the public doesn't realise is that these outfits are rated as consolidators (airlines aren't allowed to discount flights to the public so they resort to using wholesalers and consolidators) and selling these discounted seats results in substantially higher income.

They foist these odds and sods on an unsuspecting public when they build routing and fares.

Most Register Readers are well travelled people and they know their optimum routing for given destinations. My familiar routings include YYZ (Toronto) to Europe (avoiding Heathrow); YYZ to SGN (SaiGon).

As a test I routinely insert these into the usual search engines just to see how they 'optimise' your routing whilst dumping their discounted seats. Invariably the routing is through the US and then eastbound through some intriguing and imaginative routes and often using numerous carriers. Using numerous segments involves, usually, change of aircraft. Using different carriers puts the passenger at risk of being stranded by the late arrival of one carrier and the need to wait for a seat on the next carrier - and YOU picking up the cost of hotel/food during your wait.

Of course any trip involving the U.S.A. involves giving all your information to Homeland Security as well as having those thieving TSA security/baggage checking agents stealing your stuff. Now TSA gets to look at you stark naked!

The optimum routing is YYZ >> HKG (HongKong) >> SGN (Cathay) or YYZ >> TPE (TaiPei) >> SGN (Eva Air). Today's pricing on these routes - 1 year return - is CAD$2,300 and CAD$1,600 approximately, (Prices from my REAL PERSON travel agent).

You'll never get these prices from an automated search engine as it's not in their interest to offer them.

What Google is bringing to the table is transparency and this will reveal all the competition for what they are - on-line con artists. If your flight is a single segment each way, feel free to use these automated systems. If your journey involves several segments in each direction no one offers a better service for optimising routing/timing/pricing than a real live travel agent in your home town where the travel agents reputation is on the line.

Few people have better search capabilities than Google and their expertise will only benefit travellers but will also definitely impinge on others excessive profits.

There are many reasons not to use on-line res systems as opposed to the real, live, travel agent. The agent does the work, her/his expertise and ongoing knowledge adds benefits to the mix. They can play 'tricks' that on-line bookers won't do to optimise your flight or seat.

How many on-line systems offer access by e-mail and/t telephone? How many res systems will help you get another flight if you miss a connection? How many res systems will keep an eye on you as you follow your itinerary? How many res systems will remind you when your last day of validity is drawing near? How many res systems will tell you when a 'seasonal' price break/increase is coming due?

Smart people use Travel Agents and Google will only add to their performance and services offered to the public which might put a big dent is some peoples profits, but remember that is your money inflating their profits through conflict of interest and deliberate/dubious business methods.

Little wonder they were out there paying lobbyists and calling on their political friends to get this deal killed.

Another overlooked aspect of using on-line bookers is security of YOUR MONEY. Using a booking system outside your country of residence means that most Travel Agent Bonding (as in refunding your money in case of agency/airline failure) does not protect you. Just see how Expedia, etc. help you recover your money!

(I have no interest either in a travel agency or Google)


The airlines had problems with reservation system veracity

One thing you forgot to highlight was the fact that airlines trusted the reservation accounting systems: that is until they found out that they were being charged too much.


The reservation systems earn their money when a seat is sold - but they charged/debited the airlines when an inquiry was submitted and held pending customer acceptance. What is supposed to happen was when a 'held' booking was cancelled as a result of a no-sale or confirmation period time-out.


The airlines then installed software and all hell broke loose as they had the proof the reservation systems were overcharging them, which is more properly called fraud. Smaller airlines opted for the weakest link in the deal - the travel agent - billing them for charge-backs rather than going after the thieves in the mess.


Then travel agents got suspicious of res systems and found they were not being credited with all the seats they sold. Travel agents get bonus payments for large bookings with a reservation system. In fact there was a court case, brought by Galileo against a travel agent in Toronto, Canada, which was withdrawn after the reservation system realised they would be vulnerable to questions around their accounting accuracy. (There is no record of this action as it was heard in secret)


I agree with you that the presence of Google will improve things for the travelling public who, at this time, are being nickle and dimed to death by airlines imposing their usurious fees (started by American) which has now led to ridiculous baggage limits which offer the carriers to collect yet more fees for bags they once carried free.

Anonymous Coward


I used to work for Galileo and have also worked for an Airline. I used to write the reservation software and must have read thousands of lines of code, in particular the accounting handoff. Called a MIR

1. It's not possible to systematically defraud the airlines the way described here - there are too many checks and balances - don't forget the only entity that knows definately how many passengers were on a flight are the airline.

2. Chargebacks were always a pig and gamed by the travel agents to help them out

3. As were advance bookings and their commission payments. We used to know when a major agent did

their end of period reports specifically from the volume


Are/were the GDS's Whiter than White - I doubt it - although It definitely wasn't being done programmatically in the late 90's early 00's. Both agent

and Airlines have plenty of ways of of acting dodgy if it

they choose

Just remember never chalk up to conspiracy what can be explained by idiocy or accident or massively over complex pricing and business models (or my bad code :) ).

I could even tell you lots of the ways you suddenly find your flight overbooked or your seat double booked but that's a story for another day.

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