Travelport claims industry first with new facility

Agents can book BA pre-paid seating via Travelport. But AA insists on direct connect

Travel agents are now able, for the first time, to book pre-paid seating on British Airways flights through the GDS Travelport. Previously, this optional extra was only bookable via ba.com.
Following the initial home market (UK) launch, agents in other regions will be able to book pre-paid seating later in the year.
It is intriguing that while BA’s relationship with the GDSs seems to be flourishing, its alliance partner American Airlines is pushing its Direct Connect product that bypasses GDS facilities when booking tickets.
AA wants to control its own ancillary revenues, adding that the cost of using GDSs is anyway too high. This has plunged it into a damaging legal dispute with Travelport, Sabre and Amadeus as well as online travel agencies such as Orbitz.
The new Travelport facility offered to connected subscribers follows a global full-content agreement it and BA signed last year, which included a commitment to integrate BA’s pre-paid seating solution into the Travelport GDS.
The initiative with BA is one of a number of high-profile merchandising announcements the GDS provider hopes to make over the coming months with other key flag carriers.
The booking is still made direct with the airline, but a Travelport application places a booking option within travel agents’ GDS workflows. Travelport Options Integrator, available for connected agents to download free of charge, is the technology behind the new functionality and links directly to BA’s pre-paid seating content.
The Travelport solution was designed in an effort to make shopping, selling and booking optional services through the GDS a straightforward process for travel agents.
ABTN