You know the online travel biz is changing when news of the breakup between a major air carrier and a major dot-com travel survivor fails to generate much interest on the Street. After all, we're talking about Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), a stock that can easily swing 10-12% in a single day. Don't believe me? Take a trip back in time to here and here.

Today, we found out that Priceline and Minnesota-based shuttle-to-the-tundra Northwest Airlines (NASDAQ:NWAC) would be parting ways more or less for keeps. Apparently, there was a dispute over distribution. Like many juicy divorce settlements, the details on this one remain confidential for now, but we do know that it's been quite a while since the firm sold Northwest tickets as part of its famous -- and increasingly irrelevant -- name-your-own-price model.

So why the lack of action? There are a few reasons. First off, Priceline management is confident that it can make up any Northwest losses with other airline bookings. But a more important factor is the paradigmatic shift that's crept through the online travel biz. Gone are the heady days when the original dot-coms made headlines simply by providing a clearinghouse for comparison-shopping. That's good news, because as time has passed, it's become increasingly easy for just about anyone to provide price comps.

Today's bargain hunters have their pick of dozens of price-trolling services, from Mobissimo.com to swappin' sardineTravelzoo (NASDAQ:TZOO). Where established outfits such as InterActive's (NASDAQ:IACI) Expedia, Sabre Holdings' (NYSE:TSG) Travelocity, and Cendant's (NYSE:CD) Orbitz stand to make their real dough is in providing full service and packages with handy add-ons such as hotel booking, cars, theater tickets, massages -- the whole trip. Ironically, they are thriving in part by mimicking the services of the human travel agents they helped make obsolete.

To judge by recent results, Priceline is doing a good job in this brave new world. Sometimes, no news is indeed good news. And the market's reaction to today's split looks like a prime example.

For related Foolishness:

Priceline's staying power and the possibility that a bigger fish will acquire it are two reasons that Fool co-founder David Gardner made it a pick for Motley Fool Stock Advisor . Subscribe today for six months without risk.

Seth Jayson booked his last vacation through Expedia, but at the time of publication, he had positions in no company mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.