Southwest Airlines found its way deeper into the wallets and laptops of its frequent flyers back in 2005 when it began nifty little service called Ding! that alerts computer users when a deal they’ve been looking or pops up for sale. It’s called Ding! because the software that Southwest lets you download is programmed to mimic the sound of an airliner’s seatbelt warning. Since then DING! has caught on, and was even recognised when Southwest won the Airline Business Strategy awards for marketing back in 2005.
Now American Airlines, Southwest’s giant cross-town rival in Dallas, is fighting back with something it calls the DealFinder, which you download from AA.com. The alert tracks both the route you want (e.g., DFW-Miami) and the price you want to pay. The DealFinder, which some American people are calling “the Ding Killer” or even “Dang”, will also offer exclusive deals as well. This exclusivity is intended to distinguish American's offer from fare-alerting and fare-finding services offered by some of the on-line travel agencies such as Expedia. American, based near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport, will offer 100,000 DealFinder downloads on a first-come, first-served basis. After it works out the bugs, they will be widely available. American says its offer is better, because it offers more variables, and anyway American goes everywhere. No word from RyanAir, which offers something it calls BING!, a downloadable service that alerts users to low fares.