IATA Aims to Simplify Flight Bookings With New Single-Record System

The International Air Transport Association is working to perfect its One Order system, designed to bring together the many parts of an airline booking—itinerary, purchase record, and any add-ons—in a single, trackable customer order.

Have you ever had to rebook a flight because you missed a connection? It can be a real headache, especially if you have to switch to a different airline.

That’s just one scenario that an in-the-works program from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) aims to make easier for airlines and travelers to navigate. One Order, currently being tested by a number of airlines and industry vendors, will bring all information related to a customer’s flight together in a unified record that any carrier or third-party service provider can use.

Currently, that data is fragmented: A passenger name record breaks down the passenger’s information and trip itinerary, an e-ticket tracks a traveler’s purchase record, and an electronic miscellaneous document (EMD) shows whether the passenger paid for a seat upgrade or other add-ons. The new system will create a single “customer order record” with one confirmation code and will standardize the order management process.

It sounds simple, but One Order is the biggest shift for the airline industry’s order-management infrastructure since it embraced e-tickets in 2008. In fact, IATA anticipates that One Order will eventually replace the e-ticket entirely.

“One Order will result in the gradual disappearance of multiple reservation records as well as e-ticket/EMD concepts to be replaced by a single reference travel document,” the association states on its website. “A new standardized and expandable reference will become the single access point for customer orders by third parties (interline partners, distribution channels, ground handling agents, and airport staff, among others).”

Speaking to Travel Weekly, IATA’s Sebastien Touraine, who is heading up the One Order initiative, said the implementation is complex and has been in the works for a few years. “This is a modernization exercise,” he said. “It is a massive transformation process. It will bring our industry beyond today’s legacy constraints, and it will also benefit the consumer.”

One Order is being enabled by IATA’s New Distribution Capability, an XML-based standard for data transmission that aims to increase the capacity for stronger distribution of airline data. NDC and One Order are intended to complement each other, Touraine noted in an interview with Transport & Distribution.

IATA hopes that One Order, which is optional for airlines, will be widely adopted between 2021 and 2025, Tourine told Travel Weekly.

(rzoze19/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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