With airline optional services -- bag fees and premium seats -- all the rage, travel agents in Finland connected to the Amadeus GDS may the first to settle these transactions using a new IATA standard, the Electronic Miscellaneous Document.
Amadeus and Finnair plan to enable travel agents in Finland beginning in the first quarter of 2011 to pay for the airline's bag fees through the GDS and to settle the transaction using EMDs.
This may seem like big news in Finland and a big yawn elsewhere -- but the development actually is important.
If Amadeus and Finnair make it first to the finish line first among airlines and GDSs, then this would be the inaugural instance of an airline, GDS and travel agencies using the new industry standard to settle optional services through GDS bookings.
In 2010, none of the estimated $22.6 billion in airline ancillary services was settled in a GDS through an industry standard.
Most of the services were offered in airlines' own channels, or if in the GDSs through work-around solutions, creating a nightmare for travel agencies when they couldn't access these services on a wide scale for their clients from within the GDSs.
Using EMDs, ancillary services in the GDSs for travel agents may begin with bag fees next year in Finland, but likely would expand to the gamut of optional services over time.
This first implementation of EMDs, enabling electronic settlement and accounting, could signal the beginning of a multi-year process to bring more ancillary services to travel agents in their GDSs.
In June, Finnair began using EMDs to settle payments and for accounting using EMDs -- but only in their direct channels, including the airline's websites.
Now, Amadeus says it became the first GDS to receive an IATA sign-off on for the EMD standard.
After Finland in the first quarter of 2011, Amadeus says it plans to introduce EMDs in 20 additional markets, including ARC markets, in 2011. Another 70 markets would go live in 2012. An additional 70 BSP markets would get EMD capabilities in 2013.