United, British Airways, and other airlines expand NDC tests of dynamic packaging

New technology is enabling dynamic airfare packaging, such as a bundled offer of an airline seat and a bottle of champagne for a single price. But airlines are still figuring out the practicalities of communicating these offers to travel agents via what it calls the New Distribution Capability (NDC).

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has released a report on how its NDC pilots fared in 2014.

Last year, IATA ran pilots with eight airlines, including Air Canada, British Airways, United Air Lines, Qatar Airways, and Virgin Atlantic, which included more complicated variations than considered before, such as codeshare flights, travel insurance upsells, and mobile ticketing.

United delivered live transactions, meaning that US travel agents could for the first time buy its legroom product if they use Amadeus, the Spain-based global distribution system (GDS), as Tnooz has previously reported. Two Chinese airlines, Hainan and Shandong, delivered live transactions via TravelSky, the China-based GDS.

Other trials are still in process.

For instance, Qatar launched a pilot to cover the design of the NDC solution, focusing on its user interfaces and technology architecture for managing dynamically packaged offers. By September, it expects to be offering ancillary sales through selected travel agents who use Amadeus’ systems.

Similarly, Swiss is perfecting the sale of bundles that include free checked bags, seat upgrades, and champagne on-board. Participating technology vendors include HP Enterprise Services, PROS, and Datalex.

Qatar NDC

In 2015, IATA is insisting on a minimum of eight live deployments using the latest NDC schemas. In an industry milestone, the first pilots will deploy end-to-end scenarios.

In general, pilots will also shift from basic use cases to complex ones. According to IATA:

“Last year’s pilots generally had simple rich content scenarios, primarily retailing their seats products. As a result, a simple approach was used to manage and distribute rich content to their pilot aggregators or agents.

This ranged from emailing a file to the aggregator with the URL or providing copy of rich content files. These airline pilots found no need for a content management system as the rich content was fairly static or limited in number.”

As more sophisticated products are packaged, more sophisticated solutions will need to be created.

Similarly, a key issue is how to present offers on travel agent displays via third-party platforms while retaining an airline’s control over the offers. One solution is to have an offerID or orderID number that is consistent through the process. Either type of ID number would need to be integrated into today’s airline and GDS processes.

IATA also plans to publish case studies of successful implementations to inspire and help other airlines.

Airlines in progress on the current NDC schemas include Aer Lingus, Air China, China Southern, Hainan Airlines, Heli Air Monaco, Qatar Airlines, Scoot, Shandong Airlines, Swiss Air, and TUI Fly.

Other airlines, like United and British Airways, are using NDC-compliant schemas developed by third-parties, such as Amadeus.

Personalized pricing, based on a traveler’s preferences and past travel record, is not yet within the grasp of the industry.

NDC hits US at last: United taps Amadeus’s XML to sell ancillaries

What NDC-style flight booking might look like for agents [SCREENSHOTS]

Why the New Distribution Capability debate needs to move on

IATA’s Report on the 2014 NDC pilots (opens as a PDF)

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Sean O'Neill

About the Writer :: Sean O'Neill

Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.



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  1. Mike @Datalex


    Great to see a screen shot from the SWISS, Datalex, HP and PROS pilot at the top of your article.

    Worth noting the pilot supports personalised and anonymous shopping as well as the ability to select optional items whilst shopping, to further customise each bundle. This enables you to see the best option; either customise the bundle or move up to another bundled offer.


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