Sabre, the global distribution system (GDS), said today that it had begun to sell American Airlines' upgraded seat products using technology based on the New Distribution Capability (NDC) standards.
Sabre tells Tnooz this is a phased roll out that started on Feb. 2 and will go through mid-February.
Farelogix, as a technology provider to American, provides the paid seats functionality through the AA Direct Connect API.
Sabre sends the data through its Air Extras solution, which first appeared in 2008 and which lets airlines spotlight ancillaries to the more than 435,000 agents that today use Sabre for ticket processing.
Passengers pay additional fees for the products -- Main Cabin Extra (which primarily provide extra legroom) and Preferred Seats (which mainly offer the most sought-after seat locations in an aircraft).
This is a first for Sabre using NDC-based tech standards. But Sabre notes it already has about 60 carriers selling ancillary services through its solutions in its marketplace. It expects the number of airlines participating to "increase significantly this year."
When NDC standards were first mooted, Sabre had joined other GDSs in expressing skepticism and concern about their initial conception and usefulness.
It publicly changed its tune over NDC in 2014, falling into line with its GDS rivals Amadeus and Travelport in offering qualified support. Its GDS rival Amadeus has worked with United on NDC-based processes, and Travelport has signed up more than 100 carriers to its merchandising technology.
Sabre and American have had a tempestuous relationship in the past decade (despite the airline having founded the company decades ago). The new deal signals a closer relationship between the two companies.