Priceline Now Sells American’s Preferred Seats
It might seem fairly insignificant that Priceline started selling “preferred” seats for a small fee to those who buy tickets on American, but in reality, this is a huge deal. It’s hopefully just the beginning of a big change in the way you buy a ticket from online travel agents.
While airlines have begun to build websites to allow for fees for seats in more desirable locations, the big online travel agents have fallen behind. For the most part, online travel agents (like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, or Priceline) don’t show optional fees as part of the shopping experience, and they certainly don’t let you actually buy those services. That’s because they use Global Distributions Systems (GDS) to enable bookings and there is limited support at best for this kind of thing. As a result, you have to buy your ticket, then go directly to the airline for the rest.
American has been a leader in the fight against the lagging Global Distributions Systems. It’s hard to get travel agents (online or otherwise) to go along because the Global Distributions Systems pay the agents a nice chunk of change to keep them using the system. But American did get Priceline to commit to using a direct connect solution that bypasses the GDS and interfaces directly with American.
What does that mean? Priceline can now sell preferred seats while others can’t. This should just be the beginning of selling other types of options, and that’s good for everyone. Airlines can make more money and travelers can pick and choose the amenities they want all in one place.