One simple chart to show why airline merchandising gets so complicated

At the heart of IATA‘s NDC project and the efforts by global distribution systems to evolve alongside the carriers, is a single concept: airline merchandising.

It’s not particularly new, in some respects, it’s just become massively important to airlines in recent years as they look to boost revenues but also differentiate themselves from rival carriers.

In addition, technology and the web is allowing carriers and intermediaries (on and offline) to push these ancillary products to both corporate and leisure travellers as part of loyalty programmes or within the booking flow.

And, finally, deep integration and breadth of product gives providers more information about their customers – a personalisation opportunity.

On the one hand this should all be relatively easy – just a matter of the right technology, understanding how to target customers and pricing, right?

Not so fast.

Farelogix, one of the big flag wavers for NDC, has pulled together a chart to illustrate not only the various types of merchandising methods now in play but what it takes from an airline or intermediary to implement it all.

The diagram was shown as part of a presentation at the NDC in Action Symposium in Barcelona this week.

Click the image for a larger version:

merchandising complexities CROP

NB: Aircraft take-off image via Shutterstock.

NB2: Disclosure – Accommodation for the author’s attendance at the event was supported by Airline Information.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Timothy O'Neil-Dunne

    Its way harder than we think but not too hard to solve. Airlines need to change their processes to get the value they can out of ancillaries. The change in business process and operational processes will be hardest for legacy siloed carriers. They are still struggling. There are now good solutions in the market. Planning to use them? You really do need some professional help.


  2. RobertKCole

    I certainly hope the “Easy Stuff” includes flying on-time in a clean, well-maintained plane, with a pleasant, well-trained staff.

    I do find the chart a little ironic when I compare it to a first class Hawaii menu that my mother saved from when she was a Stewardess (pre-Fright Attendant era) in the 1940’s for United Airlines. The route was SFO-HNL on a DC-6 aircraft.

    Hand-typed names of all the passengers, arranged by traveling companion(s) in the first class cabin, accompanied by the typed four course inflight meal (with wine) and snack prior to arrival.

    I would score that in the far top-right corner of the chart – definitely high airline control and commitment, as well as a high level of effectiveness for more revenue happy customers.

    Maybe carriers will someday be able to match the true personalization and inflight experience offered during the golden age of flight. Here’s a video of the 1946 passenger experience –


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