While we’re not often exposed to them as consumers, airline contracts can get pretty sticky on the back end sometimes. Back in the day airlines paid travel agents generous commissions for just about all kinds of bookings, which have been slowly but surely cut over the years. Nowadays as a general rule of thumb, travel agents typically only earn a commission on full fare or premium cabin tickets, since the margins there are a bit higher. So that’s why it’s not unusual to see travel agents charging booking fees nowadays, since they’re typically not getting paid directly by the airline.
Of course the bigger online travel agencies (OTAs) have continued to have a bit more clout, given the volume of business they’re bringing the airlines. Unfortunately that doesn’t always seem to go over smoothly, as American Airlines and Orbitz have cut ties effective immediately.
American Airlines fares are no longer available through consumer websites powered by Orbitz, including orbitz.com and cheaptickets.com. We also anticipate removing US Airways fares from Orbitz on September 1, 2014. You can continue to compare and purchase American Airlines and US Airways flights or fares through other online and brick and mortar travel agencies. Corporate clients that use Orbitz for Business to book travel are not affected by this change.
Tickets already purchased through Orbitz websites remain valid for travel, but changes to reservations must be made through each airline’s reservations department. If changes to travel are needed, please contact the reservations center for the carrier operating the flight. For tickets purchased from American Airlines for travel, please contact 800-433-7300. For tickets purchased from US Airways for travel, please contact 800-428-4322.
So Orbitz has already pulled American fares, and will be pulling US Airways fares as of September 1, 2014, assuming an agreement can’t be reached.
Generally speaking I make my American bookings directly through aa.com, as they offer a 24 hour hold policy. However, American doesn’t allow you to cancel a ticket within 24 hours of booking, which Orbitz does. I know a lot of people preferred to make their American Airlines bookings through Orbitz, as a way of still having that 24 hour period where a ticket can be canceled.
This isn’t actually the first time American has pulled fares from Orbitz. The same happened a few years back, though they eventually restored their relationship. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is only temporary, and that eventually they’ll agree on something mutually beneficial.
But in case you’re wondering why you’re not seeing American flights available on Orbitz, there’s your reason…