Direct Connect In A Can

After several months of searching for the holy grail of direct connect solutions, I've come to the following conclusion. "Direct connect in a can" doesn't exist. At least not in any form close to reality. So what's an agency, corporation, or traveler to do if AA evaporates from the global distribution systems? Unfortunately, in the short term, the answer is one that a lot of folks won't like (except for AA).
The big loser in all this (at least for awhile) will be the agency. Until Farelogix (or something similar) is well integrated at the point of sale, able to create a non-GDS passenger name record, support negotiated rates, feed data directly into the agency back-office, handle code shares, etc., using it will be a chore. Companies will demand it, agencies will try to charge for it, but it will be difficult conversation and will lead to lost revenues.

Corporate travelers will continue to book AA, especially those in AA-dominated cities. Assuming your booking tool provider handles the integration (many won’t), that leaves the agent and data consolidation unresolved. Travelers (or their admins) will simply go to and if the flight is within policy, book it using their corporate card. Travel managers should be forming their AA policy in anticipation of direct connect world.

The card will be the key to data consolidation. By pulling reports from my card provider, using card provider reporting tools, or loading the data into my expense management system, I'll be able to capture the data for airline negotiations, policy enforcement, etc. Not the best answer, but not a bad one either. Card reporting tools have come a long way and in some cases (actual spend) have higher quality data than the agency backoffice.

And the impact to the corporate travel manager? That depends upon the value of your negotiated discounts with AA. If substantial, you'll spend more for flying AA in the future. If minimal, travelers booking within policy and flying the lowest logical airfare could actually result in savings after you net out the fees you would normally pay to the agency.

In summary, start forming your policy for booking AA direct, review your card provider’s reports for airline information, and calculate the cost of not being able to book your hard earned AA agreement. It may not happen, but at least you'll be prepared.