Southwest Airlines in legal battle with search engines over cheap deals

  • The Skiplagged flight search engine is looking to determine if it violated Southwest’s terms.
  • The lawsuit came after Southwest sued Kiwi.com, another theft news site, in Texas.
  • The airline has sent letters threatening legal action over the fare lists, according to Skiplagged’s complaint.

Skiplagged, a flight information website, has asked a New York court to determine whether it is violating Southwest Airlines’ terms of service by posting air fares.

The lawsuit said the flights displayed on Skiplagged are not taken directly from the airline’s website, so they did not violate the website’s terms.

“Skiplagged does not access Southwest.com or use the Southwest API to get data posted to Skiplagged.com,” the tech company said in its complaint, “and is not bound by the terms and Southwest conditions “.

The filing was an indirect response to another lawsuit in which Southwest was suing another theft data provider, Kiwi.com. Skiplagged has not been named as a defendant in this case, but the outcome could affect its business.

Southwest has been engaged in a legal battle with Kiwi.com in federal court in Texas since January. Southwest in this lawsuit sought an injunction to prevent Kiwi.com from posting its flights. The airline said it does not allow online travel agencies to sell its flights without written permission.

“Kiwi knowingly and intentionally targets Southwest’s website to collect Southwest’s fare and pricing information for its own business benefit and without Southwest’s permission,” the airline said in its complaint.

A spokesperson for Kiwi.com said Friday: “Southwest makes its flight and fare data publicly available across the Internet, and it cannot legitimately prevent fare competition and price comparisons by enforcing its terms of use for Browsewrap, which Kiwi.com has never accepted. in any case.”

Kiwi.com often handles over 20 billion price checks per day. Its data comes from hundreds of sources, including airline websites and APIs.

“At a high level, this case is about whether public information is, in fact, public. Southwest Airlines seeks to restrict online competitors’ access to public online fare data,” the carrier said. word of Kiwi.com. “Ultimately, it should be up to consumers, not Southwest Airlines, to decide where to buy their plane tickets.”

Seeing the threat posed by the lawsuit in Texas, Skiplagged decided to sue Southwest in New York, his home state, as part of a preventive legal action. The complaint did not say where the Skiplagged data came from.

Skiplagged, speaking through his attorney, Irwin B. Schwartz, of BLA Schwartz PC, declined to comment. A Southwest spokesperson also declined to comment.

The Skiplagged lawsuit follows a robbery of private letters between Southwest and Skiplagged this year, according to the complaint. The two companies refused a request to share the letters, but Skiplagged’s complaint described a communication from Southwest as “threatening.”

In two letters in early June, Southwest accused Skiplagged of “illegally retrieving data from the Southwest.com web,” among other complaints, according to a court file.

Days later, Skiplagged sent its own letter, telling Southwest it had not pulled the data from the airline’s website.

In early July, Southwest responded with mounting complaints, telling Skiplaged that it was “instigating Kiwi.com to violate Southwest’s website” by linking to that site, according to the complaint.


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Rosemary S. Bishop