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What is NDC in Airlines?

IATA NDC platform

Everything You Need to Know About NDC: Revolutionizing Airline Ticketing for the Contemporary Voyager


Did you ever wonder why booking flights isn’t as easy as buying a book on Amazon or picking a movie on Netflix? Across industries, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, but airline ticketing has been lagging this trend. It has been hampered by legacy systems that prevent information from flowing freely between airlines, travel agents — and ultimately — you, the traveler. Until the introduction of NDC (New Distribution Capability): a solution led by IATA (International Air Transport Association) with the promise to transform how airlines sell tickets. Here’s what you should know.


1. What is NDC exactly?


NDC stands for New Distribution Capability and is an industry-supported program developed by IATA designed to modernize the way airline tickets are sold. It allows airlines to distribute their content via a new XML-based data transmission standard which means better customization and a more direct contact with the airline for you as well as richer content with more transparency.


2. Why has NDC been developed?


The reason behind developing NDC was fueled mainly by the cost that traditional booking engines imposed on airlines. Up to 25 percent of the ticket cost is going to the traditional GDS systems. In addition, there is a massive need for a flexible system that can handle modern air travel complexity while providing transparency throughout. Global Distribution Systems (GDS) – traditional systems used by travel agencies have limitations which stop them from offering all airline products and services; this is where NDC comes into play so that these restrictions can be bypassed allowing airlines to differentiate their offers and give personalized travel experiences.


3. What are the benefits of NDC for me?


  • Richer Information: Imagine seeing detailed descriptions along with prices; pictures showing seats available onboard an aircraft and even menus served during flights plus other amenities such as WiFi availability.

  • Personalized Offers: With the New Distribution Capability enabled through XML formats like offers could be customized based on individual preferences or previous buying behavior patterns.

  • Better Pricing Visibility: This refers not only to knowing what something costs but understanding what one might pay extra, ie breaking down the cost of things like baggage fees or premium seat charges which were not disclosed earlier.


4. How does NDC work?


NDC works by using an XML protocol to communicate between airlines and travel agents (or directly with consumers) thereby allowing for the transmission of detailed product information together with pricing. This enables third-party platforms as well as travel agents to shop, order, pay flights etc. based on data provided directly by the airlines without having to pass through GDSs like before.


5. The impact on airline distribution


  • For Airlines: Lower costs with more control over what they sell and how it is sold – now air carriers can bundle their products differently from before as well as pricing them more flexibly; also they may now offer bundled packages or ancillary products more effectively.

  • For Travel Agents: A wider range of airline products available plus the ability to give a personal touch while serving customers.

  • For Customers: An educated decision making process coupled with personally tailored experiences in travel planning.


6. Challenges and considerations


Even though there are many advantages associated with NDC, its implementation poses challenges such as technological advancements needed at different levels within the distribution chain; training needs for travel agents and other personnel involved; and compatibility across various systems must be ensured.

This will not come easy as it will require awareness creation for everyone concerned. Therefore collective efforts need to be made towards addressing these challenges adequately so that they do not compromise the desired outcome as far as NDC is concerned.


7. The future of airline ticketing with NDC


As more airlines and travel agents embrace the New Distribution Capability we hope to expect a shift towards seamless booking experiences where everything happens transparently while being more user friendly on top. This means selling flights alone will no longer be the norm but rather holistic and comprehensive package deals inclusive of additional services provided alongside personalized options.


8. What comes after for travelers?


With NDC expanding its territories, it is expected that there will be a wider variety of options available to travelers right at their fingertips, ushering in a more competitive and vibrant market place. This can lead to cheaper rates and more personalized travel experiences being offered by airlines directly or via travel agents.


The bottom line


NDC’s introduction marks an important development for the air transport industry which promises better retailing of airline products across borders, aimed at serving clients better while they are on the move worldwide. For an average aviation enthusiast or frequent flyer this translates into a future where one will not only travel by air but will also consider other facets of the journey such as – how do I want to fly; where should I stopover; what are the associated costs involved?

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