Is Sabre biasing American Airlines flights for employee travel?
While Travelport GDS added a surcharge on certain American Airlines flights and Expedia has made finding American Airlines fares a laborious task in the wake of the airline’s withdrawal from Orbitz, Sabre several days ago began making it difficult for employees to book American Airlines flights, according to an industry source outside Sabre.
When flights are searched using the company’s GetThere corporate-booking tool for Sabre employee travel, on many routes American Airlines flights appear very low in search results, and with a notation saying the booking is “subject to review.”
And when employees try to book the flight, another notation indicates that the booking is subject to review prior to ticketing.
This initiative impacts travel for Sabre employees traveling on company business and doesn’t affect any other GetThere clients.
Sabre spokeswoman Nancy St. Pierre says Sabre has done nothing to bias American flights for employee travel, but often displays carriers based on “economics and convenience.”
Sabre has not issued an edict that flying American Airlines is barred, St. Pierre says, adding, “we’re trying to maximize our travel spend.”
In any corporate booking tool, corporations select preferred carriers.
For Sabre, American appears no longer to be a favorite.
If Sabre is piling on in this GDS and online travel agency fight against American Airlines’ direct-connect push, it would hardly be surprising.
And, any Sabre actions against American highlights how far relations have deteriorated, especially given the historical special relationship between Sabre and American Airlines.
After all, American created the Sabre CRS in the 1960s and American’s parent, AMR Corp., only shed its majority stake in Sabre in 2000.
Both Sabre and American Airlines are headquartered in the Dallas area, and some Sabre employees long had flight privileges on American Airlines. As of 2007, almost 2,500 Sabre employees still had these privileges for non-revenue travel on American Airlines.
And, Sabre still hosts American’s internal reservation system, although the airline has signed a deal to transition to HP’s still-under-development Jetstream system.
Sabre has some 9,000 employees worldwide — and it appears as if the numbers taking American Airlines’ flights will diminish, at least in the near future.
Dennis Schaal was North American editor for Tnooz.