Company Travel - AA.com or 3rd Party Site?

Old Aug 25, 19, 7:24 am
  #1  
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Company Travel - AA.com or 3rd Party Site?

Looking for a strategy on if I should be booking my company travel through AA.com or a reputable travel site (Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline etc.) .

My company allows me to book travel through any reputable travel site (Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline etc.) or the hotel directly using my personal credit card. Thesedays, I only fly for work maybe 8-10 times per year and I usually book 1-2 weeks before my business trip. I've only used AA.com for flights because:
1. I'm under the impression AA provides low (maybe lowest) paid fares for their flights.
2. Convenience of calling AA directly if any flight changes or issues.
3. BusinessExtra credit (minor in the scheme of priorities)

Should I be booking with a 3rd party site that provides cashback, has their own rewards program etc.? I could only do this if the cost to the company was cost-neutral as booking directly through American Airlines. I want to make sure I continue to earn miles/points to maintain status, get upgrades, for award redemption etc. I primarily fly AA and stay at Marriott properties. Appreciate your thoughts.
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Old Aug 25, 19, 8:12 am
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Don't book work travel through a 3rd party site, you're asking for trouble and sometimes you won't get points. Last thing you want is to deal with a flight change at the last minute through a 3rd party when you are required to be onsite with the customer. I've had expedia-purchased flights that were canceled last minute (booked 6 months prior) without any form of notification, thankfully I called them a couple weeks before to make sure the flight was good. Also some flights, especially really low price ones, don't include points. I'm a consultant who travels 48 times a year, prior to us being moved to a corporate booking tool, I only booked directly with airlines. Prices tend to be about the same anyway.
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Old Aug 25, 19, 9:12 am
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Go with the aa.com. For work I'm forced to use CWT. Their search feature sucks and I swear the prices are lower on aa.com. Since I'm MIA based I book near 100% with AA. What I have to do is search for the flights I want on aa.com then spend 10 minutes on CWT rooting around for the flight I want.
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Old Aug 25, 19, 7:07 pm
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If you can book directly with AA.com then I would do that. Especially if you get an AA branded credit card to get extra miles. We have to use Concur at work and it is a terrible piece of software.
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Old Aug 25, 19, 8:07 pm
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You mentioned you primarily stay at Marriott. Always book Marriott through Marriott.com or their app. Marriott will not provide you points or stay credit if you book through third party sites like Orbitz. Make sure you always attach to your reservation your Marriott Rewards/Bonvoy member number.

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Old Aug 26, 19, 2:27 am
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I never used 3rd party sites.. always go with the site that you want to travel or stay with.
Like others have said.. if there is any sort of trouble... 3rd party sites will not be your friend.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 4:45 am
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Depending on how critical your work is, I would consider using a commercial travel agency (or possibly one of the commercial travel agencies that has an online portal for booking). This may offer you some cheaper rates than published, will allow you greater choice of ticket classes (flexible tickets etc), the ability to hold tickets without payment until closer to the date and in the event of IRROPS you can call the agents 24 hour number and let them deal with it instead of queuing up. It might be worth suggesting to your company to engage one of the major travel agents that has a business portal that allows them to manage company travel effectively whilst allowing you flexibility to choose what you want.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 5:07 am
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Either book directly or use a real TA which provides the services you require.

Third-party vendors are a hassle, impose terms above the carrier / property and get you nothing.

If you do go with a real TA, make certain that it comes highly-recommended by people you know and trust, that you meet with someone in person before selecting and that it has a 24/7 backup service.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 6:52 am
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If you book through aa.com, ensure you sign up for business extra. Itís a nice way to get additional rewards for your travels. With 8-10 trips per year, you may be able to get an additional free ticket or a handful of confirmed upgrade rewards.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 7:07 am
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AA direct is the best option. OTAs and corporate travel agents are miserable to deal with. Plus not mention most corporate travel agents charge a fee on each booking so you'd be saving your company money by going direct.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 7:20 am
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Originally Posted by atbPy View Post
If you can book directly with AA.com then I would do that. Especially if you get an AA branded credit card to get extra miles. We have to use Concur at work and it is a terrible piece of software.
My company requires us to use Concur too, and I agree that it is awful. It has a tattletale feature that reports to your company whenever you buy an airfare that costs > $100 more than "the lowest comparable fare". The problem is, the lowest comparable fare is usually a one-stop on Delta with a five hour layover in Atlanta. I have to use Concur for airfares but always book hotels directly on the hotel chain's site. The rates are always lower than on our travel portal.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 9:43 am
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Originally Posted by CLTUSCAPTIVE View Post
My company requires us to use Concur too, and I agree that it is awful. It has a tattletale feature that reports to your company whenever you buy an airfare that costs > $100 more than "the lowest comparable fare". The problem is, the lowest comparable fare is usually a one-stop on Delta with a five hour layover in Atlanta. I have to use Concur for airfares but always book hotels directly on the hotel chain's site. The rates are always lower than on our travel portal.
Hopefully your company understands why you book the nonstops.
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Old Aug 26, 19, 11:58 am
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I will stick with my current approach of AA.com + BusinessExtra for airfare and Marriott.com for hotels.
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Old Aug 27, 19, 5:28 am
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Originally Posted by CLTUSCAPTIVE View Post
My company requires us to use Concur too, and I agree that it is awful. It has a tattletale feature that reports to your company whenever you buy an airfare that costs > $100 more than "the lowest comparable fare". The problem is, the lowest comparable fare is usually a one-stop on Delta with a five hour layover in Atlanta. I have to use Concur for airfares but always book hotels directly on the hotel chain's site. The rates are always lower than on our travel portal.
My company uses Egencia (expedia's new corporate site) and we are now required to book through it. Flying out of ONT to Orlando, Frontier shows up as the lowest rate ($119 RT), which puts everything else out of policy. No way in hell I'm flying Frontier for 5+ hours.

This happens a lot between Frontier, spirit and SW. Thankfully there are ways around it, and ultimately I just tell my company that I'm ignoring policy when that happens and they are OK with it.
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Old Aug 27, 19, 1:53 pm
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I work for a smaller company, so we make all our own arrangements and aren't required to use anyone in particular. So I agree with the others - either go directly with the airline or use a real, reputable TA for work travel.

I almost always book direct for plane tickets as I usually book refundables anyway and only fly AA/OW. There have been times when AA.com hasn't been able to book a fare I know is available. I've always been able to tell a TA exactly what I was looking for and they were able to book it for me. A good TA can really help out if things get ugly too.

I haven't found any advantage to booking through a place like Orbitz. Fares are pretty much the same and you may have to pay a fee to use the service. If you have to make a change, a lot of airlines won't touch it unless you pay a fee for them to take control of the reservation. They'll direct you to the site normally.

Hotels I always book thru their website or call the property. If you don't go thru an official channel, Hilton denies elite benefits. Can't speak to others. Most rates don't require you to pay up front, so it can make cancellation easy if your trip changes. Also if you're inside the "cancel with penalty" window, you can call the property directly and plead your case. I've gotten out of a few now show fees that way when my plans changed. Places like Orbitz will generally show you the advance purchase price, so good luck getting a refund or making a change. That price will often match the website anyway.

I only book thru National for cars as I like their Emerald Aisle. Usually get coupons and such via email so I book direct. Emerald Club is one of the most convenient programs out there. Again, no charges until you pick up the car, so cancellations are easy.

About the only time I see an advantage in using a site like that is if you're going to buy a package deal. You may be able to save some money that way, but that's really only good for personal travel.
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