- Associated Press - Friday, January 21, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — US Airways said Friday it has signed a deal with Expedia that will keep its flights and fares on the online booking site for at least the next several years, less than a month after Expedia pulled American Airlines fares.

The Tempe, Ariz., airline will offer all of its content to Expedia, Hotwire and Egencia sites through a global distribution system model, a central reservation system which is used by travel agencies to search and book travel. Airlines pay a commission every time people search for a flight, look up a fare or book a trip on a site like Expedia.

In exchange, Expedia Inc. has agreed to a more widespread offering of the airline’s choice seats, mostly window and aisle seats toward the front of coach that cost extra to book.

While only American Airlines has tangled publicly with the online travel agencies, other airlines have had similar concerns about how their tickets are sold and distributed.

The tension between airlines and online travel agencies heated up last month as American Airlines pulled its flights from Orbitz, saying consumers could just as easily buy tickets from American’s website and “we won’t have to pay as much for it.”

Expedia pulled American’s offerings from its site this month, saying it “cannot support efforts that we believe are fundamentally bad for travelers.”

Analysts have warned that while American might save money in commission fees, its sales will drop if its flights don’t appear on travel sites such as Orbitz and Expedia. About a third of U.S. travelers book their tickets on independent travel sites.

Southwest Airlines Co. is currently the only other major airline that doesn’t use these sites to display its fares. American’s fares are still displayed on other sites like Priceline.

American is owned by parent company AMR Corp.

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