Ai Editorial: Airline retailing = contextual shopping + seamless fulfillment

First Published on 2nd April, 2019

Ai Editorial: Airlines are bracing for today’s era in which passengers not only expect frictionless shopping, but also seamless fulfillment. In this context, a lot is expected from ONE Order, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta  


A lot is being spoken about offer optimization but it is just one aspect of the journey. Without delivering a superlative experience on the day of travel, airline retailing would be incomplete.

Be it for the day-of-travel-experience or even at the time of disruption, there is plenty of scope for improvement.

Though not many full-service carriers have shown swiftness in this context, a handful of them have embraced agile transformation to enrich the passenger experience. And with IATA’s initiative ONE Order program, based around the concept of a single order record, one can only expect the journey of travellers to get better. This, in fact, would be an integral part of overall digital transformation, where agile enterprises are looking at making the most of every interaction with their passengers. The ONE Order initiative is an extension of the NDC program that simplifies the way that airlines operate and interact individually with their passengers before, during and after the trip.

It isn’t uncommon to come across a disjointed experience even with the best in the business. A top airline would probably fail to identify, let’s say a non-loyalty program traveller, at the boarding gate even though the same passenger would have requested for something via Twitter or Facebook on the day of travel. For instance, a flight getting delayed, and the traveller informing the airline about the connecting flight owing to a less than one-hour halt via social media, there is no help on most of the occasions, and the staff at the airport is oblivious to any request. So how to overcome such challenges?


The industry acknowledges the need to destroy data silos and historically grown complicated message exchange systems and protocols.

In this context, a lot is expected from ONE Order. It brings the industry to the “single source of truth” model of passenger services.


“Within the ONE Order world, there is one data point that contains all of the information regarding a passenger’s journey, and it resides with, and only with, the selling airline,” shared an executive, working with a travel technology company. ONE Order combines the PNR data information with the E-ticket and the EMD information into one single record. In the ONE Order environment, all information is contained in a single order.

By gaining real-time access to the airline’s data, including schedules, pricing, availability, rules, allowances, and so on, the airline regains full control over its data, the executive said. “It is no longer beholden to conform to restrictions in fare rule filling, baggage allowances, price determination, or anything that is in place simply because today’s distribution requires it. Ancillaries are freed from constraints in EMD issuance without impacting the distribution capabilities.”    

“While it may seem a bit counterintuitive, the centralization of the airline’s data is the only way that the airline can be free to address its passenger’s needs and wants, and be able to offer anything it wants to sell, present it how it wants to sell it, and at the right, personalized price to increase the overall sales conversion.  That centralization is not possible in today’s distribution landscape.”

Servicing – as desired by passengers

Clearly airline operations system integration is critical. 

If airlines intend to ensure their passengers are identified when it is needed, it is imperative for airline-specific systems and processes to completely provide an answer to siloed data scenario. For example, if data is being ingested from only a fraction of sources, it wouldn't serve the passenger in all scenarios. That's where the planned offer and order management systems, and the concept of ONE Order will count.

ONE Order would have information about the passenger’s journey. And order would be created based on the passenger information that the airline has. When you go into modifying the order, the process would require a new offer. And that offer is always created considering passenger details and personalization.

As for how this also simplifies servicing the passenger, imagine meeting a request for changing a seat after a boarding pass has been issued. Today DCS or the departure control system is a separate system. Advanced seat reservation happens in reservation, not in DCS. Information goes from reservation to DCS. Today's environment is complex, as it is not a real-time transaction. But with ONE Order and integrated, connected set up, a system like DCS would be having order information in real-time and updating it. Everything resides in real-time in that order. In the NDC world, it is one source of data - it doesn't need to be siloed or to be transferred from system to another. So there is one copy of data in today's scenario and if it isn't shared with another, then it remains siloed. With ONE Order, there won't be any single copy or lag time.


Hear from senior industry executives about NDC and ONE Order at this year’s Ancillary Merchandising Conference, scheduled to take place in London, UK (9-11 April, 2019).

For more info about Ancillary Merchandising Conference, click here

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