Unpacking NDC: What you and your travellers need to know

NDC Infographic

You may have heard the term NDC a lot recently and it’s one that won’t be going away anytime soon. IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) has promised to offer personalisation, increased choice as well as better customer experience and the potential for travel buyers to achieve savings.

Here are the answers to your top NDC questions:

What is the NDC exactly?

NDC is a new standard of transmitting data, developed by IATA, that allows airlines to distribute their content (auxiliaries like booking your baggage, Wi-Fi and meals separately) in real-time. Many airlines see NDC as an enabler to deliver better content to everyone and therefore improve the travel experience.

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How will NDC benefit you and your travellers?

1. Offers tailored to your preferences

With NDC, travellers can choose to save their information to their profile to easily customise search results.

For example, Wi-Fi on the plane could be included in your company’s corporate agreement with the airline, while for the leisure traveller, Wi-Fi will cost an additional R150 on the same flight. The different pricing results will immediately be reflected in the NDC results, giving you a more accurate overview of what you can expect to pay.

2. A faster service from your travel agent

For your Corporate Traveller expert, the new communication standard means we can purchase a preferred seat, add additional baggage or re-order catering on your behalf in a single transaction, in one place.

For your travellers this means we can offer you a lot more options in a more efficient way, whether you would like extra legroom, extra baggage fees, comfort class upgrades or special meals.

3. The ability to compare apples with apples

It can sometimes be hard to understand exactly why your Corporate Traveller expert advises you to pay more for a flight that leaves at about the same time and follows the same itinerary.

Thanks to the NDC, we can show you what the seats on your chosen airline look like, and help you compare what you can expect from the lounge and what mileage you earn on each airline.

4. An easier way to book low-cost carriers

The rise of low-cost carriers, which were traditionally outside the Global Distribution System (GDS), have seen travel arrangers lose visibility and control of a growing proportion of their air spend. IATA explains that for low-cost carriers with no GDS presence, NDC will enable such a carrier – which today only sells direct to the customer – to sell via your travel expert.

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Why isn’t everyone jumping on the NDC bandwagon?

Firstly, NDC implementation isn’t cheap. The technology is expensive and it’s not a mandatory requirement for any airline or travel agency.

The NDC is not a uniform technology either and can look different from one organisation to the next. There are different versions of NDC as well as different levels.

What about the surcharges airlines have started charging?

A number of airlines have started charging fees for bookings made in the GDS, instead of through their own channel or through the NDC. Among these are Lufthansa, British Airways, Iberia Airlines, and Air France - KLM.

The Flight Centre Travel Group has signed multi-year distribution deals with most of these airlines to eliminate the booking surcharge. This means that Corporate Traveller clients will be exempt from the surcharge.

When will NDC be rolled out?

Developing this new standard is a gradual process with rollout largely dependent on travel industry suppliers investing in and transitioning to NDC technology.

Corporate Traveller’s parent company, the Flight Centre Travel Group, will start running a series of NDC pilots in the second quarter of 2019 that will allow travel bookers to search, book and service NDC content across multiple channels.

NDC promises content tailored to the company’s travel programme and business needs. If fully implemented, it could free companies and their business travellers from a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to choosing suppliers and indeed flights.

The reality is that the NDC could have profound effects on how air travel is booked and marketed to travellers in the next few years. Exciting times are ahead…