Air Canada Sues Seats.Aero
Websites that offer airfare award and availability search are popular tools for those who aim to maximize miles and points. But they rely of data from airlines to provide these services, and often those airlines don’t like it.
Seats.Aero is one such popular site, and they are now being sued by Air Canada in US District Court for the District of Delaware. Localhost and Mr. Ian Carroll who own and run the site, are accused of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Air Canada Group claims that Mr. Carroll created a for-profit website and app that uses substantial amounts of data that is unlawfully scraped from Air Canada’s website and computer systems.
The lawsuit says that this is in “direct violation of the Air Canada Group’s web terms and conditions”. The lawsuit alleges that Carroll uses bots to continuously search for and harvest data from the Air Canada Group’s website and database. His intrusions are “frequent and rapacious, causing multiple levels of harm”. Air Canada says that those actions have caused a strain on its computer infrastructure and have impacted the airline’s customers experience.
Air Canada also claims that Seats.Aero uses its federally registered trademarks and logo to mislead people into believing that the site, app, and activities are connected with and/or approved by the real Air Canada Group. Allegedly this is done to lend an air of legitimacy to the site and app.
Air Canada says that it has attempted to stop Seats.Aero from scraping its data via a number of technological blocking measures. But, Mr. Carroll has been able to thwart those attempts while also “boasting about his exploits and circumvention online.”
A representative from Seats.Aero describes a different chain of events on reddit. They say they “attempted to work with Air Canada several times, including offering to change how our scraping worked, but they refused to work with us and filed this lawsuit without any further notice. This is a hostile move against all award travel tools.”
Seats.Aero denies they are retrieving availability too quickly, because they retrieve availability from other Star Alliance airlines at the same rate, and they appear to have no IT issues as a result. “We have built our systems to protect the airlines from excessive load.” The website also says that when potential passengers view Aeroplan results on Seats.aero, they “no longer have to go run the same search on Aeroplan’s site, saving them resources.”
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