6 years ago

With deadline up, Sabre says it will not immediately bias American Airlines flights

With a June 1 deadline approaching, a Sabre official told customers the company doesn’t intend to immediately resume biasing American Airlines’ flights in the global distribution system.

Chris Kroeger, Sabre’s senior vice president of marketing, told travel agents and corporate customers in a conference call today that Sabre believes it is still under a temporary restraining order and is prohibited from biasing American Airlines’ flights while the order is in place, according to sources.

Sabre biased the airline’s flights in the Sabre GDS in early January, but put the flights back to normal when American Airlines won and temporary restraining order and the two parties agreed to put their litigation on hiatus until June 1 while they attempted to negotiate a new full-content agreement.

Kroeger declined to speculate on what actions Sabre might take if the temporary restraining order is lifted, adding that Sabre generally believes it is well within its rights to bias American Airlines’ flights.

In January, Sabre and American agreed to put aside their litigation until June 1 while they tried to reach a new full content agreement. If no agreement is reached before tomorrow, June 1, their litigation kicks back into gear.

However, Sabre believes a temporary restraining order barring the kind of display biasing which Sabre undertook in early January remains in effect until a judge schedules a hearing on the issue.

When GDSs bias an airline’s flights, they generally place them very low in searches, making the schedules and fares difficult for agents to find and use.

The full-content agreement between Sabre and American expires Aug. 31 and Kroeger told customers that Sabre is committed to reaching a new deal, sources said.

Kroeger said American Airlines is the sole U.S. major carrier facing a contract renewal in 2011  and the agreement would serve as a template for future airline deals.

American Airlines couldn’t immediately be reached for comment about the display biasing issue.

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Dennis Schaal

About the Writer :: Dennis Schaal

Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.



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    […] With deadline up, Sabre says it will not immediately bias American Airlines flights […]

  2. Chicke Fitzgerald

    Thanks Dennis, I had forgotten about Air Canada. And yes, Travelport was a party to this as well.

    It is interesting though that the consumer systems (OTAs) have never been held to this same standard.

  3. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Chicke: The GDSs have resorted several times to display bias in recent years. Both Travelport and Sabre biased American Airlines’ flights for a time earlier this year. And, they also biased Air Canada’s flights about five years ago. As recently as this week, Chris Kroeger of Sabre told customers that Sabre feels it is well within its rights to bias flights. Some things don’t change:)

  4. Chicke Fitzgerald

    Technically, the prohibition against display bias went away with the elimination of the CRS Rules nearly a decade ago. At that time, none of the US airlines had ownership of the GDS.

    You were right that the idea of the GDS avoiding its airline counterpart bias [from their Central Reservation Systems] was at the core of that, but it was really to protect the agency community from the airlines themselves.

    The regional influence by the airlines that founded the GDSs which maps to their hubs is still seen in the GDS strongholds in cities like Salt Lake (WSPN due to DL), Dallas (Sabre due to AA), Denver and Chicago (Apollo due to UA), Detroit, Minneapolis and Memphis (WSPN due to NW), etc. etc.

    The GDSs have [until these recent AA incidents] honored the original rule, even though they are no longer legally compelled to do so.

  5. Ahmed Airlinologist

    As a rule of thumb, display biasing issue of flights and fares is not supposed to be there.
    Did we forget that the whole idea of GDS is avoiding the unintended bias of its old counterpart CRS?

  6. Chicke Fitzgerald

    I saw that Sabre has now joined the AA/Travelport/Orbitz Antitrust Case as a co-defendant. We are going to need a scorecard soon…..

    I’m thinking that the attorneys are the ones that are winning this particular fight.

  7. Dennis Schaal

    Dennis Schaal

    Yes, Chicke, that’s true. I believe the two parties have a status hearing on their litigation June 3. After that, who knows?

  8. Chicke Fitzgerald

    The operative word there is “immediately”.

    Stay tuned.


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