August 07, 2013

Will new airfare booking system cure headaches - or create more?


IATA wants to establish a new standard for selling airline seats. Such a system would offer “real-time” fares, completely eliminating one of the most persistent problems for travelers who book their own airline tickets. Problem is, a large part of the travel industry wants nothing to do with the NDC - and with good reason.

The NDC proposal, which is pending approval by the U.S. government, was created without any meaningful input from travel agents and other travel technology companies. If the system is implemented as critics predict it will be, it could actually make airfare shopping harder and force passengers to pay more for their tickets.

The two groups — the IATA and a coalition of agents and technology companies called Open Allies for Airfare Transparency — are making the rounds in Washington this summer to talk about the future of airline tickets, with decidedly different viewpoints. At stake isn’t just the fix to Marcus’ ticket problem, or even the way we book airfares in the future. The entire travel distribution system could be affected by the outcome of this debate.

The IATA’s vision of the NDC’s effect on travel is admittedly optimistic. It says that if the government approves the standards, passengers will be able to shop for airfares, compare prices and amenities, and receive special offers if they choose to share personal information, such as their frequent flier number, age or marital status, with an airline. What’s more, the new system might allow holdouts such as Southwest Airlines to be more widely available through online travel agencies, which they currently aren’t. The IATA made these claims to me in an impressive half-hour PowerPoint presentation that suggested how travelers might use the NDC.

Get the full story at The Seattle Times

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