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JetBlue sued over anti-consumer issues removal of online data could raise JetBlue ticket prices

JetBlue has forced Fareportal to remove its flight and pricing information from the Fareportal websites including CheapOair, the largest flight-focused OTA.

Online travel agency Fareportal has sued JetBlue Airways under federal antitrust laws for an alleged “scheme” to block consumers from being able to comparison shop JetBlue’s fares with those of other airlines. Fareportal, who maintains long-term collaborative partnerships with over 600 airlines globally, is recognized for creating many industry-first innovations. The suit contends that JetBlue is trying to raise fares on routes it dominates by making it difficult for consumers to shop on price.

Amidst the turbulence of the global pandemic, JetBlue is quietly pursuing a scheme to make it harder for American consumers to save money when they book air travel, wrote Fareportal in the lawsuit that was filed on Jan. 5, 2021 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.JetBlue’s goal is simple: to make it difficult for consumers to comparison shop when they want to fly.

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) were born in the 1990s and dramatically increased competition and lowered fares by giving consumers the ability to easily compare ticket prices. JetBlue is trying to force customers to book tickets on its website where the lack of price comparison with fares from other airlines will allow JetBlue to raise ticket prices for price-sensitive travelers, said Frederick Stein, Fareportal’s Chief Legal & Compliance Officer.

As of Jan. 5, 2021, JetBlue has forced Fareportal to remove its flight and pricing information from the Fareportal websites including CheapOair, the largest flight-focused OTA. JetBlue previously blocked a dozen other OTAs from displaying JetBlue content to customers as part of JetBlue’s strategy to turn back the clock and return to the old days, before OTAs, when airline content was hidden,which made it difficult for travelers to compare services and fares.

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The complaint goes on to detail that JetBlue will move to making higher profits from the ticket price increases by eliminating comparison shopping. The complaint states that JetBlue knows that its dominance in certain markets will force consumers to book through its website, with examples of markets in which the airline has a dominant presence including New York, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

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