Airlines are not equal so why do OTAs present them in the same way?

In today’s OTA’s, flights are standardised. But airline’s aren’t equal, so why are airlines presented in the same way when booking flights indirectly?

OTAs source their air inventory from multiple sources (GDS, CRS, Aggregators, NDC, Direct connects etc). As the request goes through each system it gets stripped to its core component, a seat, on a plane, from a to b, on a date. A normalised data set (a consistent set of results). Unfortunately this consistency often de-personalises an airlines product into just a price.


Every airlines are different, each have different configurations, benefits, and experiences. Pitch (leg room) is one big difference;


But pitch isn’t the only item of importance, entertainment options, meals, drinks, and service play a part, as well as the cost to select a seat, or additional bags (if they’re included in the first place!)

Airlines have brand values but its being removed to compare apples with apples, or in some respect pears, pineapples, melons, and perhaps even strawberries!

I would like to see something like the below image, giving a visual representation of the service and the airlines values, an example of the experience.

This information isn’t readily available through most GDS, and suppliers such as Routehappy have filled a void. As NDC matures it will be interesting whether this 3rd party distribution will be necessary (although no doubt NDC will focus more on shopping than an airlines brand identity.)

As airlines start to compete on price, airlines should focus on how their brand is presented in OTA environments and provide tools and content to empower OTAs to represent airlines core values. The result of which will allow consumers to understand the value/experience rather than just making a selection based upon price or brand loyalty alone.

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