Home Airlines Southwest Allowing KAYAK To Show Flights & Prices

Southwest Allowing KAYAK To Show Flights & Prices

by joeheg

Southwest Airlines has always operated a bit differently from the other US airlines. Maybe it’s because the company started decades after the other major carriers and matured in a different generation. Sticking to its independent roots, Southwest has never allowed its flights to be shown on the major travel websites.

If you look at Expedia, Orbitz or Travelocity, you won’t see Southwest flights in the results. Some websites, like Google Flights, tell you that there’s a Southwest flight on the route you’re searching, but you’ll need to go to Southwest’s website to find the price.

Southwest is very serious about not letting other websites display their fares, often going to court to protect its information. In 2018 Southwest sued a startup company that would tell you if your flight went down in price (allowing you to rebook at the lower fare). Just recently Southwest sued Kiwi.com for scraping flight info from Southwest’s website and also sued Skiplagged for using the information provided by Kiwi.com to sell hidden-city flights on their website.

That’s why I was shocked when I saw the news that Southwest was going to allow Kayak to show Southwest’s fares. Could this be a change of heart for Southwest?

Apparently not. It turns out that Southwest is letting Kayak for Business, the part of Kayak that works with business travelers and travel managers, link with their reservations system.

I don’t work in the corporate travel world, so some of these rules are unfamiliar, but I’d imagine companies don’t want to overpay for employee travel. Until now, if someone were using Kayak for Business to search for flights, they wouldn’t see any Southwest flights. Obviously, that would cost Southwest money because that flight would be booked with a competitor.

Unlike a leisure customer who can go to Southwest.com to check a price, a business traveler might have company guidelines saying they need to book the lowest fare found on the approved system. Doesn’t matter if there’s a better or cheaper flight on a different airline. If it’s not in the system, it doesn’t exist.

Southwest has been increasing its integration with business travel systems since 2019, eventually working to make flights bookable with Sabre. Allowing the Kayak for Business platform to search and display Southwest flights in its results is a positive for corporate clients who can save money on travel expenses and Southwest, who can capture more of the returning business travel market.

Does this mean that Southwest will eventually allow OTAs and search engines to display and sell Southwest flights? Obviously, the technology is in place to make it happen. However, the vigor with which they’re defending the right to keep information private in the courts shows that’s probably not in the cards for the near future. In Southwest’s defense, if the system’s not broken, why fix it?

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