Measuring the distance between satisfied and disgruntled at IATA WPS, day two

Ben Hunt

Group Communications Director, Amadeus IT Group

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Perhaps it could be 12 megabits per second. This is what could be heading to your device if your airline of choice offers ViaSat’s airborne service. That would be enough to watch Netflix or live television and perhaps begin to remove the need for in-flight entertainment systems as mooted by Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker during his keynote.

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How to quantify the difference between a satisfied passenger and a disgruntled customer? Could it be as little as one inch? Airbusthinks it might be. On its stand at IATA’s World Passenger Symposiumin Hamburg, two rows of its seats offer 18-inch seat width. This is one more than the standard, and apparently the difference means the average person won’t have to touch shoulders with his or her neighbor.

The quest for collaboration to improve the passenger experience continued on day two of WPS. In the Passenger Experience session, a range of airlines and service providers discussed improvements within the cabin and the flight itself. Down the corridor in the Distribution track, the agenda was dominated by the retailing, ticketing and merchandising experience.

One initiative aimed at this is ONE order, a part of IATA’s Simplifying the Business program aimed at generating a single Customer Order record holding all data elements obtained and required for order fulfilment across the travel cycle (i.e. customer data, order items, payment and billing information, fulfilment data and status).

Interaction between travel providers

The manifesto for ONE order was made clear during a panel discussion: it needs to help the different travel providers interact better, so that travellers are ensured a smooth, simple, rewarding end-to-end travel experience. "Our customers don't want to be travel agents, they want to be travellers", said Tye Radcliffe, Director Distribution Strategy, United. "Travel experience is not about flying, the flight is just the mechanism", added Samuel Lacarta, IT Director, Vueling.

Lacarta explained that "if my customer is flying to London for a U2 concert, it makes no sense to rebook him for a flight a day later, because he will miss the concert". All that information about the traveller from other providers is crucial, and ideally should be included in the ONE order standard by IATA, all the panelists agreed.

All that apparent simplicity, though, is not easy to achieve, the PSS representatives in the panel warned. Time and lots of investment will be needed to get to the desired results.

Later in the day, a session discussing NDC, with a particular focus on the travel management and agency community, sparked a lively debate about the activity required to make this project successful for all players in the value chain.

The industry has made strong progress in adopting a more collaborative and inclusive approach to this project but representatives of the travel management community, including corporate buyers, made it clear that there is further work to be done, particularly in the area of communication and ensuring all players are informed and engaged.


Traveler Experience, Events