Northwest Fares no longer available on

Northwest Airlines has been removed from the leading Internet booking site, Expedia, after failure to reach agreement on payments in a case that raises questions about whether online consumers always find the lowest prices.

, which has about 10% of all tickets sold nationwide, said the removal Tuesday came after talks broke off with Expedia over listing fees the airline pays.

Northwest, like other airlines, has been trying to find ways to crack down on costs. Besides no longer selling through Expedia
, it also said Wednesday it would furlough 1,600 flight attendants.

Northwest Vice President Al Lenza says that in its listings, Expedia favors airlines that pay higher fees. “They refused to give us a commitment they wouldn`t do it,” he says.

Expedia, which tops Travelocity and Orbitz in the first six months of 2002 as the biggest seller of travel on the Web, denies bias. Consumers can find the lowest price, says Erik Blachford, president of Expedia North America.


But consumer advocates say the episode raises new questions.

“It reinforces that there`s a lot going on behind the curtain that consumers are not aware of,” says Bill McGee, editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter.

He says testing of Internet travel sites shows wide variance between fares for identical flight times.




Related stories on ITN:

(24/06/2002) Northwest Airlines no longer selling tickets on

(08/02/2002) Travelocity and Northwest Airlines Agreement

(03/04/2001) Expedia makes ticket deal with Northwest and KLM