U.S. travelers can now purchase tickets on Lufthansa
directly within the Google Flights desktop and mobile applications.
The addition of the service, called “Book on Google,” means
that Google Flights users won’t be bumped to LH.com after selecting a Lufthansa
flight from a search result. Lufthansa is the first legacy carrier to offer
booking in Google Flights, the airline said, and the service will be especially
useful to those who are booking through a mobile device.
“With Book on Google, we will strengthen ticket sales in
this channel,” Lufthansa Group chief commercial officer Jens Bischof said in a statement. “This is an
important step in realizing Lufthansa’s new sales and distribution strategy,
which strives to modernize existing booking processes as well as to develop new
and alternative distribution channels.”
The announcement comes as Lufthansa is aggressively, and controversially,
attempting to expand its direct-channel distribution network while moving away
from bookings through the GDSs. The airline instituted a $17.50 GDS surcharge
on Sept. 1, which has been widely condemned by travel agents and corporate
travel managers. During an earnings call on Monday, Travelport CEO Gordon
Wilson said that Lufthansa bookings dropped in the third quarter, though he
didn’t specify by how much.
Bischof has said that the goal of Lufthansa Group, which
also includes Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Swiss International Air
Lines, is to disrupt existing distribution channels and spur innovation.
In addition to the Google Flights announcement, Lufthansa
also revealed Wednesday that German tour operator Bucher Reisen and German
ticket consolidator Aerticket have launched direct-connect interfaces with
Lufthansa’s reservation system. A direct
connect between Lufthansa and the travel agency chain Lufthansa City Center is
also in the works, the airline said.