Unpacking United Airlines’ NDC plans

by | Aug 1, 2023 | Airlines, Digital Transformation, Retailing

Unpacking United Airlines’ NDC plans


United Airlines are planning to remove Basic Economy fares for domestic US and short-haul Latin American flights from legacy GDS channels. From 5th September, this content will instead be offered through the airline’s website, app, and NDC channels.

Doreen Burse, United SVP of Worldwide Sales explained in a memo:

“Basic Economy fares are designed to work in concert with ancillary sales […] EDIFACT is not able to sell ancillaries, therefore it is not an appropriate channel to offer our Basic Economy content.” 

The announcement comes less than four months after American Airlines pulled around 40 per cent of its content from legacy GDSs. However, Glenn Hollister, Vice President, Sales Strategy & Effectiveness so there are no plans to do anything beyond Basic Economy at the moment.

The airline has stressed collaboration in the process, hosting discussions with its corporate advisory board and travel advisory council ensuring “there were no real surprises.” United is “committed to supporting an omnichannel approach to distribution,” requiring collaboration across the value chain to achieve this.

Discussing the possibility of a long-term transition to NDC, BTN Europe reported Hollister saying:

“In the long-term, maintaining both EDIFACT and NDC does not make sense. There are a lot of hidden costs in our business due to EDIFACT. I do believe there will be an end-of-life someday for EDIFACT. That end-of-life will happen after the great preponderance of our partners have moved to NDC. We are not looking to create a cliff or something that creates a crisis for them. We want them to move and will support them moving.” 

Since American Airlines announced they would move forward with their controversial plan and begin to “offer [their] best available third-party public channel content only through New Distribution Capability (NDC) connections” back in April, airlines have made further progress on their own NDC journey.


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