Orbitz, a full-service Web travel agency that focuses on offering published fares, will now offer customers access to Hotwire's "opaque fares."
"Opaque fares" is an industry term for wholesale tickets that are purchased without the name of the carrier and often without the time of departure; these details are revealed after the fare is purchased.
The deal targets travelers looking for rock-bottom deals, unconcerned with the carrier, flight times, or the fact that they might be required to make an extra stop en route to their destination. It will give Hotwire customers a larger selection of fares, the companies said.
The month-old Orbitz enters the deal as it tries to bulk up its offerings to match those of rivals Travelocity and Expedia, the two largest Web travel agencies. Both offer opaque pricing on their sites, which they display along with normal-priced fares.
Henry Harteveldt, a senior analyst with Forrester Research, applauded the deal, saying Orbitz needed to get into the opaque pricing game. Both companies share investors that include such major airlines as Continental Airlines, Northwest Airlines and United Airlines.
"The deal makes sense in terms of a partnership," Harteveldt said. "It allows them to form a stronger continuum."
But Harteveldt said that because Orbitz customers must leave the Web site to find opaque prices, it's not as convenient as finding them on Travelocity or Expedia.
Orbitz and Hotwire will share revenue, but specific financial terms were not revealed.