Unable to purchase upgrade

Old Apr 9, 19, 4:29 pm
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Question Unable to purchase upgrade

A majority of my travel is booked by my employers dedicated travel department.
When I try on the website in manage my booking to upgrade my booking with cash (to reap the higher rewards) I get a message saying this cannot be done because the booking was made by a travel agent.
My company travel department is not a travel agent, they do not book holidays etc of any kind. They simply arrange air travel as most of our employees frequently travel by air.
Countless written and verbal questions to BA about how to get round this glitch with their website have gone unanswered.
My only option is to wait until I'm at the airport, hope there are some seats remaining and purchase and upgrade then.

Does anyone else have the same problem, and has anyone found a way round this?
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Old Apr 9, 19, 4:38 pm
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Is your employer booking direct with BA? So on britishairways.com?
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Old Apr 9, 19, 4:49 pm
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Your corporate travel service may not book holidays but it is still a travel agent and that could be what is causing the restriction.
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Old Apr 9, 19, 6:36 pm
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How does your corporate travel department book? Does it book on BA.com or is it working through a third-party vendor. If the latter, it is a TA for BA's purposes.

The starting point for you is to determine from your travel department how it books and whether it has any particularized contract with BA.
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Old Apr 9, 19, 10:52 pm
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Originally Posted by 240dae View Post
Countless written and verbal questions to BA about how to get round this glitch with their website have gone unanswered.
It is not a glitch but a matter of you having to go back to the original place of purchase to process any upgrades. BA won't process any (non-Avios) changes for tickets purchased from travel agencies.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 2:15 am
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I suspect that your corporate travel department does use some kind of third party booking tool to book your travel. It would be too much effort for them to go to every airline's and hotel's sites to book direct for all employees. This would then be seen by BA as a travel agent booking, even if you don't see them as this!

When you get your travel confirmations, are they direct from BA or do they come from another organisation? My corporate bookings should all go through Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), as the booking tool also manages negotiated discounts that my employer has with hotels and airlines. I have my own personal login for this and can book my own travel, and I'm not a travel agent, but it does stop me from then upgrading my flights.

Luckily for me, my employer is also OK to book direct on ba.com where it might be advantageous for me to do so, and then to claim the cost.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 4:39 am
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My employer has a similar policy, which basically involves our TA booking flights on Expedia, trains on the The Trainline, hotels on Booking.com and charging us a handsome markup for the privilege.

I've always told my employer that I am not happy to pass this extra cost on to our clients as we should be billing them as little as possible, and so will be booking it myself, I am happy to manage any issues that arise with that. So far, my employer hasn't pushed back on this, even though it is strictly against policy, so maybe worth a try.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 5:41 am
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Always remember there are other aspects to using a TA for business, which may include preferential cancellation terms, hidden discounts and rebates, and consolidation of accounting information for cost tracking.

And there are organisational things too: the situation where you're heading to an exhibition for example, have upgraded yourself, and then a key client walks past and mutters about having to pay for business class travel. That has actually happened to me.

We also have an HSE requirement to log details of our travel with an emergency support service, which is done automatically by the TA. You can do this manually, but it's a bit of a faff.

So generally it's better to stick within the policy and approved supplier list. Just makes life a bit easier for everyone.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 7:29 am
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As ever with these things, "Follow The Money". I suspect there are deals involving Rebates and Discounts that are not in the public domain.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 8:20 am
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Originally Posted by 240dae View Post
Does anyone else have the same problem, and has anyone found a way round this?
As you can see, we probably could do with some more specifics to be sure of this, but it seems like the workarounds are
- at T-24 (so before you do an OLCI) your ticket will come under airline control, so at that point a fare difference can be paid by the traveller. This approach is typically cheaper after flying the first leg.
- POUGs (see Dashboard for details) may become available if it is a simple ticket
- The App version of POUGs may become available even after check in
- AUP may be available at the airport, again see Dashboard for more details.
- Upgrade using Avios would be potentially possible, but would need a purely BA set of flights for this to be allowed (if it's not online, a call can usually resolve this).

Otherwise the approach will probably require some sort of intervention at your company's end of the booking process.
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Old Apr 10, 19, 8:25 am
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Originally Posted by ScruttonStreet View Post
My employer has a similar policy, which basically involves our TA booking flights on Expedia, trains on the The Trainline, hotels on Booking.com and charging us a handsome markup for the privilege.

I've always told my employer that I am not happy to pass this extra cost on to our clients as we should be billing them as little as possible, and so will be booking it myself, I am happy to manage any issues that arise with that. So far, my employer hasn't pushed back on this, even though it is strictly against policy, so maybe worth a try.
A lot depends on the specific contract between your employer and the corporate TA. In particular, BA and any other carriers which offer a discount or rebate for corporate travel, require that the employer use a corporate booking system (TA) and handle the ordinary customer service function until the date of departure or in IRROPS. You may not be aware of what those financial incentives are, but they may be substantial.

In addition,all depending on volume, it may be that the TA links directly to your employer's back office accounting system. This eliminates the need for employees to prepare submissions to account for corporate spending (or to seek reimbursement) and also may plug these numbers directly into whatever financial accounting system your employer uses. Again, you may not be aware,

There are numerous posts such as yours. While on any one ticket there may not be a savings, it is likely the case that there is a significant net benefit.
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Old Apr 11, 19, 9:07 pm
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I find that even booking the flight on AA.COM as a codeshare on BA metals results in the “please refer to your travel agent” message when trying to see if I can pay for an upgrade on MMB on the BA site. I usually keep an eye on ITA Matrix and then call in to upfare if I see a fare in a higher cabin that Inlike.
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Old Apr 11, 19, 10:15 pm
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Originally Posted by bisonrav View Post
And there are organisational things too: the situation where you're heading to an exhibition for example, have upgraded yourself, and then a key client walks past and mutters about having to pay for business class travel. That has actually happened to me.
Mid that is the worry, one had better start refusing op upís lest they be misunderstood by clients. There is after all the same potential for an over interpretative client to mistake your J seating from an op up or your out of pocket payment for something more sinister.
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Old Apr 12, 19, 6:28 am
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
Mid that is the worry, one had better start refusing op upís lest they be misunderstood by clients. There is after all the same potential for an over interpretative client to mistake your J seating from an op up or your out of pocket payment for something more sinister.
If policy is that "ALL employees up to and including the CEO are required to travel in economy class for flights of a duration of less than 7 hours", which ours is, it's not always about the money, it can be about perception, external and internal. Op Ups are sufficiently rare so as not to be a practical problem. On the other hand, if you're systematically upgrading yourself then there's a higher likelihood of being caught out.

On that basis, a gate upgrade is pretty much outside the control of the employee (though there are plenty who would refuse it if they had an exit row in ET), but a self upgrade isn't. Yes, it's dumb, yes this should be a personal choice, but that's how corporate life works sometimes.

On the rebate thing, this fascinates me, because the corporate travel centres are measured (as far as I have been able to tell) on magnitude of savings via reference to a nominal ticket cost, including rebate, and on the overall savings % against nominal. So as the magnitude savings are roughly proportionate to spend, it's in their interest to increase overall travel spend as long as it's pushed through official booking channels. They may also have thresholds to reach to qualify for discount levels, which is why bypassing the TA is verboten.

Meanwhile the poor sods in the downstream business units are measured on total overhead costs of travel - I calculated last year that I was paying 25% over the odds for my economy bookings if made by the TA (including fee), this scales up to serious money in the context of the overall SH budget for the BU. So it's a really dumb policy in the abstract, but on the other hand my BU has always been very proactive about following policy and keeping costs down (Saturday night stays incentivised for example, WTP is the top class ever allowed), where some peer BUs in the organisation are fairly slapdash about authorisation, and book fully flex Y even when it doesn't really make sense, So overall the corporate travel policy probably has reduced costs.
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Old Apr 12, 19, 6:33 am
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Oh and the other thing that amuses me is that I can go to a railway station, pay top whack for a return to say Newcastle in second class, say £250, then expense that without any questions or authorisation. Yet a £55 return flight to the same destination needs board level approval with two signatories, and will probably cost £100 or more after the fees and higher fares are taken into account. But hey ho.
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