Skift Take

The airline's recent agreements with Amadeus and Travelport signal a turning point in its distribution strategy. This is a big deal for travel management companies.

Southwest Airlines has always done things a little differently. While most major U.S. airlines like Delta, American, and United have long-standing relationships with the big travel management companies, Southwest has gone almost its entire 50-plus years without establishing those relationships at all.

This has made things tough for the travel agencies involved, especially since Southwest is a pretty popular airline for business travelers. Companies like American Express Global Business Travel, CWT, and BCD Travel have struggled for decades to book with Southwest, but have found the process costly and time-consuming.

Southwest in August announced agreements with Amadeus and Travelport, two of the largest global distribution providers. Unsurprisingly, travel agencies were enthusiastic about the decision. Once the changes go into effect — sometime in 2020 — booking with Southwest may be like booking with any other airline.

Skift talked to American Express Global Business Travel, the Airline Reporting Corporation, and Southwest Business to learn more about why Southwest was historically such a challenge for travel management companies.

Read this story, and many more, below.

If you have any feedback about the newsletter or news tips, feel free to reach out via email at [email protected] or tweet @ikcarey.

Isaac Carey, Travel Reporter

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Travel Agencies Have Long Struggled with Southwest. Now This Is Changing: Southwest has been a thorn in the side of many travel management companies. Now they have a shot at a mutually beneficial relationship with the airline.

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Travel Reporter Isaac Carey [[email protected]] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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Tags: american express gbt, corporate travel, ctir, southwest airlines

Photo credit: A Southwest aircraft as seen from below. Miss Shari / Flickr

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