British Airways has become the first airline to offer tickets using the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard via Skyscanner. The idea behind the IATA-led NDC initiative is to offer customers more information and choice when booking airline tickets through channels other than the airlines’ own websites. Skyscanner has become the first meta-search engine with the capacity to display and sell the tickets directly through its facilitated booking platform. The solution enables customers to browse elements such as cabin details, baggage allowances and upgrade options, as opposed to simply the ticket prices.
For now, though, it will just be available to customers booking on smartphones in the UK, and to customers using all devices in France, Germany and Switzerland. Also, it will only initially apply to British Airways ticket upgrades via Skycanner’s booking engine, although the airline does have future plans to offer customers the ability to buy the full range of ancillary options, such as additional baggage, through the travel search engine.
Sara Dunham, British Airways’ Head of Marketing, Retail and Direct, explained: “This partnership with Skyscanner will improve the experience for customers booking flights through travel search engines and they will be able to view more information about their flight from cabin choice to aircraft type. We all know consumers are more sophisticated and demand a more seamless experience, and this initiative lets us deliver that while still maintaining a direct relationship between the customer and British Airways. We look forward to seeing how this trial progresses.”
Frank Skivington, Skyscanner’s Chief Commercial Officer, said moving over to the NDC standard has been a “key priority” for the company. He continued: “We believe it represents the next generation of flexible and dynamic travel content distribution, and delivers real benefit to both the airlines and to our users.
“Having the ability to offer tickets plus ancillary streams means we are able to showcase the full range of products and services offered by carriers, while giving our customers more opportunity to select and buy the product that they really want throughout the comparison and shopping process”.