Questioning the travel industry status quo, one blog post at a time

Posts Tagged ‘just the facts’

I reread Sabre’s DOT comment on IATA’s Resolution 787, and what I really think it boils down to is them saying there is no need for a new standard because they can already do everything the airlines are asking for! Seems like they believe the world revolves around them. What about all those other aggregators, GDSs, and airline distribution partners that would benefit from having an airline connectivity standard?

According to Sabre, it appears like the only thing airlines have to do is purchase (I’m assuming they won’t give it away for free) some route-based advertising in Sabre Red’s “Graphical PromoSpot” and boom—product differentiation completed. Don’t worry airlines, you can also get a Text PromoSpot for agents still using the cryptic screen. Funny thing is, we believe airlines want more than just highlighting amenities and services. It’s about transacting dynamic, personalized, and relevant offers at time of search and throughout the travel process, like many airlines already deliver on their website.

At any rate, Sabre sums up their position well here, “That assertion [Resolution 787] is that new technical standards, to be jointly agreed and jointly controlled by airlines under the auspices of IATA, are needed because, it is claimed, GDSs, such as Sabre, will not otherwise be able to support efforts by airlines to highlight their amenities and services and to make “personalized” offers to consumers. This assertion is not true.”[1] Read the rest of this entry »

I don’t think there is a hotter topic right now in the airline industry than IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative. Over here at Ask the Question, we do our best to help clarify any confusion and respond to any spurious articles that we see, but we also like to have our fun and discussions on other topics, so if you’re looking for a blog that is all things NDC, look no further than IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) Blog.

It does a good job of providing clear, accurate information on NDC, as well as doing a fine job of myth busting. If you haven’t seen it, it is definitely worth checking out!


I could not help but think of this famous Mark Twain quote as I read Mark Pestronk’s article published in the recent issue of Travel Weekly. I’ve known Mark since my days with System One, but  I was a bit surprised by his statement about Direct Connect being “a failure” and his related references to it being “vaporware.” Now, I can only assume that Mr. Pestronk is not referring to the Direct Connect developed by Farelogix. Because our Direct Connect is fully certified by ARC and BSP in over 60 countries, deployed by 15 airlines around the world, accessed by over 5000 travel agencies in 40 countries, and used by millions of passengers (knowingly or not) to fly on those airlines. And I certainly believe these numbers would be significantly higher were it not for the concerted efforts of a few in our industry to stall the progress of the Farelogix Direct Connect.

It certainly is no longer any secret that at least one GDS has wanted to stop Farelogix and its Direct Connect deployment. Quoting testimony from the recent American Airlines v. Sabre case (transcripts available at, just as Mr. Pestronk did, we now know this GDS wanted Farelogix to go away. As stated in internal emails from Sabre,“Our goal is one—not let Farelogix spread any further, and number two, to discontinue the current locations.”[1] Another read, “We want to make sure we are still pushing on the strategy of shutting down Farelogix.”[2]


© iQoncept –

 I have to ask, why would one GDS go to the lengths of “shutting down Farelogix” if Direct Connect is, as reported in Travel Weekly, “a failure” and “vaporware?”

Since I can’t answer the particular question as to what would motivate a GDS to want to shut down Farelogix, what I can do is propose an offer to Mr. Pestronk, or anyone else that writes about or wants to write about Direct Connect, to come to our office in Miami for a couple of hours where we will provide a fully transparent and in-depth review of the Farelogix Direct Connect. That way the next time anyone writes about Direct Connect, he or she can reliably report on the facts.


[1] October 24th p41, lines 18-21

[2] October 24th p41, lines 24-25

As more and more details emerge from the American Airlines v. Sabre trial, it is clear that Sabre made a concerted effort to neutralize AA’s Direct Connect strategy and the technology behind it. In case you need a refresher, Direct Connect is a technology that allows airlines to sell their products and services in a personalized and dynamic way to the indirect channel via a connection through a GDS (e.g., Travelport and Air Canada) or bypassing the GDS.

To Sabre’s credit, it appears from the court documents that they knew the industry was moving in this direction as far back as 2006. However, as it was deemed a threat to Sabre’s business model[1], a plan was put in place to make things so untenable for American that they would decide to drop the strategy.

According to the transcripts, in 2006, investors in Sabre had a plan, named Project Sovereign, to sell or go public with the company within the next five years[2]. But, doing so anticipated that potential competitors be “unlikely to be as viable next time around” and this meant doing “one thing: Delay or destroy American’s Direct Connect.”[3] How did Sabre plan to do this? Among other tactics—a secret boycott[4]. Read the rest of this entry »

Great article exposing ulterior motives behind the Open Allies lobbying effort and the overall DOT fight. It is refreshing to see some bold reporting in the travel space!


Virtually everyone agrees that travelers need to be able to compare the true cost of airfares, plus baggage fees and seat selections, in a transparent manner without getting gouged along the way with hidden extras.

Open Allies for Airfare Transparency, a coalition of industry associations, corporations and travel agencies, advocates that the Department of Transportation step in to ensure that airlines distribute all of their seat and bag-fee information through the GDSs. Open Allies is making much of a Harris Interactive 2012 traveler experiences survey that found that 94% of the 2,310 adults queried who booked summer travel using an online travel agency endorsed the notion that “all airline fee information should be available to travel agents and online travel websites.”

The online survey, conducted September 4 to 6 by Harris Interactive, was commissioned by a founding member of Open Allies, the Interactive Travel Services Association, whose members include global distribution systems such as Sabre, Travelport, and Amadeus, and their OTA clients, including Expedia, Orbitz Worldwide, Priceline, and Travelocity.

Lots of allies doing the GDSs’ bidding

Founded in early 2011, Open Allies, too, despite its roster of nearly 400 trade associations, travel agencies and corporations, has been spearheaded by the GDSs, the American Society of Travel Agents, and the Business Travel Coalition, all of which have collaborated before on similar lobbying efforts. The stakeholders’ primary interest is making sure that the current methods of airline ticket distribution remain the same and that airlines do not sell direct to consumers — even if that lowers prices for consumers.

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Air & Business Travel News posted a “News Story” this week that cites a large TMCs annual Travel Management Priorities report. According to the report, “Comparing travel costs between suppliers will be ‘more difficult’ for buyers this year because of extra charges and airlines’ attempts to move to ‘direct connect’ distribution.

Unfortunately, this large TMC’s report just hit the tip of the iceberg. We did some research and took some surveys* about what else will be ‘more difficult’ because of Direct Connect. I hope you’re sitting down. The results might just shock you!

© Glenda Powers -

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I am sure if you were a fly on the wall at Blockbuster HQ a while back you would have heard these words: “That new Netflix strategy is simply misguided.” And similarly, in the hallowed halls of Kodak you most definitely would have heard something like, “Digital photography, talk about a misguided strategy.” Or the countless brick and mortar retailers that failed to develop an online presence because they thought’s distribution strategy would “never work.” My guess is that the folks who uttered those words are no longer employed by their respective organizations. In my humble opinion, those folks failed to recognize the power of the technology that was responsible for bringing about that “misguided strategy”

Copyright JJAVA / Fotolia

Yet, I continue to hear some in our industry say, “this new direct connect strategy is misguided.” So, do the same technological principles that radically changed the company strategies mentioned above apply to our industry? That is a great… Ask The Question.

To assist in getting to some of those answers, I refer you to an essay recently written by Richard Eastman, who as many of you know has been at the forefront of travel and related technology for years.

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This morning, fortunately after my coffee, I stumbled across a piece written by David Jonas of The Beat. David felt compelled to comment on an article in Travel Weekly written by a “Washington-based lawyer specializing in travel law,” titled AA’s Misguided Approach Will Doom Rollout of Direct Connect.I must give David credit for calling out the very obvious inaccuracies in the article. And, frankly, I believe this needs to happen more, and I am not excluding my articles from this needed scrutiny. I am not going to rebut the inaccurate elements in the article, as David did an excellent job of shining a light on them. You can be the judge as I have, with permission, published David’s blog below.

Copyright Jenny Downing

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You just gotta check this out. Over the past couple of days I have read a few Beat articles on which—for as much as I would like to just relax on a beautiful Sunday morning with my Metamucil, or Muesli, or whatever it is us “experienced” guys are supposed to take to keep us feeling spry—I simply must comment. I am referring to the articles where some large TMC execs (TMC is large, not the execs) have determined… let me get this right, “…should it [American Airlines] become unavailable in global distribution systems. CWT has indicated that because booking AA outside the GDSs drives up operational costs, the carrier’s exit would result in a $3 per-transaction “search” charge applied on all bookings for those clients wishing to include AA in their shopping. An additional $22 would be charged for bookings actually made with AA.”

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Last week, I introduced a blog series on merchandising. The first installment focused on the fact that there is a wide range of opinions and emotions across the travel industry regarding this new phenomenon called merchandising. I also pointed out that there is a fair amount of misinformation and misunderstanding on the topic, and this often inhibits effective discussion and debate. So, in the hopes of leading to more fruitful and informed discussions for all of us, this second installment is a short primer on merchandising lingo. The intent here is to give us all a baseline understanding about this powerful movement that is unfolding in our industry. Read the rest of this entry »