A website dedicated to finding the cheapest airfare on Southwest is now facing off with the airline in court.
Pavel Yurevich, who used Southwest frequently as a traveler, created the website SWMonkey.com with his business partner, Chase Roberts, in order to help fliers find the best fares from the airline, The Dallas Morning News reported.
The website used data from the Southwest website in order to allow users to sign up for alerts of price drops on a flight they’ve already booked. The customer was charged $3 if rebooking with the site's recommendations saved them at least $10. (Southwest does not charge a fee for flight changes.)
As deal seekers may already know, Southwest is protective of its fare data: The airline does not list its prices with search engines like Google Flights, so travelers must typically check southwest.com to see prices and book.
SWMonkey.com was up for less than two weeks in November before it got its first cease and desist letter from Southwest. Now, the airline has filed a lawsuit against the two founders and their company, claiming violation of its trademarks, computer fraud, and violating the terms and conditions of its website.
“It’s really kind of unfortunate that this is happening. We’re not a threat to their business in any way,” Yurevich told The Dallas Morning News.
“After repeated attempts to resolve issues with the Southwest Monkey website, Southwest is now pursuing claims associated with violations of our website terms and the unauthorized use of our trademarks,” a Southwest representative said in a statement. The airline claims this data scraping method creates “substantial” traffic to its website with no intention of booking tickets, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The website SWMonkey.com is still live — however it does not offer any services at this time. A note to visitors to the site reads:
“In the couple weeks that we were on-line, we were able to save customers more than 43,000 points and $550 dollars, and have made $45. Southwest Airlines has sent us a number of cease and desist letters demanding that we shut down our website ‘immediately.’ Because our $45 will not go very far in fighting litigation in federal court in Dallas, we have decided to save ourselves the headache and have shut down the service.”