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Delta Joins Sabre in New Effort to Define How Airline Seats are Sold

Sabre’s “Beyond NDC” program leading efforts to redefine distribution.

Sabre Corporation is leading a collaborative effort to define and deliver the next generation retailing experience to airline customers through a personalized NDC-enabled platform that will offer a fresh, innovative approach to comparison shopping.

To that end, Delta Air Lines is the newest addition to Sabre’s “Beyond NDC” program, a cross-industry group working to accelerate the development, integration and testing of end-to-end NDC capabilities. In addition, Sabre has been working with Delta and other major carriers along with ATPCO to develop and test a new approach to shopping based on the next generation storefront (NGS) standards currently under development.

NDC refers to New Distribution Capability, a travel industry-supported program launched by IATA for the development and market adoption of a new, XML-based data transmission standard that enhances the capability of communications between airlines and travel agents. As airlines offer a continuously growing menu products and services on their websites to appeal to the business travelers (for instance, early boarding, preferred seating, airline lounge passes), people booking those flights, whether agent or end user, may not be aware of the full range of airline products on offer. The concept became controversial in recent years as many in the industry believe that ultimately NDC means the airlines can charge more if there is less transparency with fares, and the ability to compare is limited.

“Delivering a modern-day retail experience in third party channels requires changes across the distribution ecosystem. Sabre’s Beyond NDC initiative is a great platform for cross-industry collaboration, which we see as an opportunity to deliver the benefits of NDC at scale, while minimizing disruption to our agencies and customers,” said Jeff Lobl, managing director – distribution strategy at Delta. “We also applaud Sabre’s commitment to Next Generation Storefront and the greatly improved shopping experience that it will provide.”

Powered by its latest air shopping API, Sabre’s NGS solution categorizes airline offerings by product attributes and normalizes the data for easy comparison shopping. This solution will deliver initial shopping results that include carriers’ complete product lines, ensuring Sabre-connected travel agencies, online travel agencies and other third parties can provide better information to help travelers choose the offer that is right for them.

“As content becomes more complex due to branded fares, a la carte ancillaries, bundling, and soon dynamic NDC offers, the industry faces another challenge – how to display the diverse offers in an easily comparable way,” said Brett Burgess, senior vice president of product, for Sabre Travel Network. “Our solution provides the built-in flexibility needed to compare and integrate multiple attributes, and to evolve with our customers’ needs.”

The Next Generation Storefront will drive a more effective approach to shopping and possibly produce a dramatic shift in how travelers think about overall value when buying flights.