Much of the discussion about Google's bid to buy ITA Software, including here, has been limited by the lack of understanding all around about how airline search and reservations actually work now, and what it is exactly that ITA Software does. Travel expert Edward Hasbrouck wrote a detailed 3-part piece on his blog explaining the back story, what ITA Software does, and what it means for travelers. "...because CRS/GDS [Computerized Reservation Systems or Global Distribution Systems] companies are generally invisible in their intermediary role (and currently all owned by groups of private equity investors, so they need not report publicly on their finances or operations), few analysts outside the travel tech industry know how to interpret the implications of Google's decision to invest $700 million in this sector. Frankly, I'm not at all sure Google itself understands what ITA Software does (and doesn't) do, and what they are getting for their money. ... What will this deal mean for travelers? The short answer is that it is likely to be a bad thing for travelers ... because it is likely to exacerbate the trend toward personalized and less transparent pricing of airline tickets (and other travel services) and the de facto disappearance of key consumer protection principles embodied in the definition of a common carrier and the requirement for a published tariff applicable equally to all would-be customers complying with the same rules."
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